Introduced by Nazanin Sahamizadeh, theatre director, Tehran.
Editors Aubrey Mellor and Cheryl Robson
A wide-ranging collection of plays from new and established voices from Iran and the Iranian diaspora, translated into English. Topics range from a jazz tour of Iran in 1963, to the desperate hopes of women in a time of revolution, to the struggle to create a new life abroad where beliefs and attitudes are tested, and in verbatim testimony, we explore the lives of boat people. those migrants fleeing war who have become trapped in a migrant camp on a small island in the Pacific.
These plays newly translated into English reveal the hearts and minds of Iranian people and offer six fascinating, new and original plays to perform. With an overview of Iranian Theatre by Nazanin Sahamizadeh.
- Home by Naghmeh Samini – (Iran) translated by Hossein Nazari and Ghazal Ghaziani
- A Moment of Silence by Mohammad Yaghoubi – (Iran) translated by Torange Yeghiazarian
- Dogs and my Mother’s Bones by Mojgan Khaleghi (Iran)
- Isfahan Blues Torange Yeghiazarian – (Iran-USA)
- Shame by Sholeh Wolpe -(Iran-USA)
- Manus by Nazanin Sahamizadeh (Iran), Leila Hekmatnia (Iran) & Keyvan Sarreshteh (Iran), translated by Siavash Maghsoudi. Based on Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani’s testimonies.
Watch a video about the authors and their work here.
Nazanin Sahamizadeh is a director and researcher of the play Manus. She set up the Verbatim Theatre group in Tehran and had the idea for the play after hearing about the abuse of detainees in Manus, an offshore detention centre for Australia. The award-winning play has been performed internationally including at the Adelaide Festival in Australia in 2017. It is based on the testimonies of several refugees including Kurdish detainee and journalist Behrouz Boochani,
Mojgan Khaleghi is a writer and director who has been focusing more on directing in recent years, and she recently completed her latest documentary film. She also directed the hit play You Are Busy Dying at The City Theater Complex in Tehran. As an actor she performed in Blind Owl and has worked with famous stage directors and movie makers like Ebrahim Hatami Kia, Mohamad Yaghoubi and Hadi Marzban. In an interview with Iran Theater she said that she will direct the show Dogs and my Mother’s Bones at City Theater Complex after the coronavirus pandemic. The theme is about the Balkan Wars in the early 1990s, focusing on women’s issues in war and the challenges and abuses they face.
Mohammad Yaghoubi was born in 1967 in Langaroud, a town on the Caspian Sea. While pursuing studies in judicial law, he joined a university theater company in 1988. The following year, he wrote his first play and took his first steps on stage. Less captivated by the limelight than passionate about writing, he nevertheless decided to take training as an actor in the school run by Hamid Samandarian, a veteran of drama in Iran. Convinced that theatrical writing cannot be taught, Mohammad Yaghoubi hopes to expand his writing as a dramatic author by learning the art of the actor. This same desire for training in writing through scenic practice also pushes him to try his hand at directing. After several theatrical experiences in the basements of private houses, his first production was officially presented in 1997 to the public at the City Theater in Tehran. He then began to publish and mount his first plays. Despite the setbacks encountered with the censorship of the Ministry of Culture, which Mohammad Yaghoubi readily criticizes publicly, his name is today one of the most influential author-directors of his generation.
Naghmeh Samini (PhD), playwright, scriptwriter and lecturer in Dramatic Arts, was born in Iran and received her BA in Drama and MA in Cinema from the University of Tehran. She did her PhD in Art Studies at the University of Tarbiat Modarres in Tehran with a thesis focused on Drama and Mythology. More than twenty of her plays have been staged in Iran, France, India, Canada, the United States and other countries. These include Sleeping in an Empty Cup, Sky Horses Rain Ashes, Making Faces and The Home. Her screenplays, including Main Line and Heiran and 3 women won awards. In 2007 critics selected her as one of the five top playwrights in Iran. Her plays are experimental in structure and handle a variety of topical subjects at personal and sociopolitical levels. Inspired by One Thousand and One Night, she uses magic realism and non-linear narratives in her plays. One of her recent plays entitled The King and the Mathematician: A Legend(2012) was selected by UNESCO as one of the cultural achievements of the year.
Naghmeh has been Assistant Professor/Lecturer in Dramatic Literature at the Faculty of Music and Performing Arts, University of Tehran, since 2005. She was also affiliated with the School of Drama, University of Washington between 2012 and 2017. She has run several creative writing and drama workshops in Iran and abroad. As a researcher, she has several publications among which the most important ones are two books: one about One Thousand and One night entitled The Book of Love and Magic (Tehran: Markaz, 2000) and the other which is focused on reflections of Iranian Mythology in Iranian drama is entitled The Theatre of Myths (Tehran: Ney, 2008). Nagmeh has published numerous articles and delivered lectures on cinema, theatre and cultural studies in Persian and English. Her most recent lecture delivered in Stanford University was entitled ‘Feminine body and Feminine Mind in Iranian Cinema. Naghmeh has won several scholarships and bursaries for her creative writing and research projects from Japan Foundation, Aschberg UNESCO and other cultural organisations.
Sholeh Wolpé is an Iranian-born poet, playwright and literary translator. Her performances, solo or in collaboration with musicians and artists, have been hailed by audiences as mesmerizing. Named a “2020-2021 Cultural Trailblazer” by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Sholeh is the recipient of a 2014 PEN Heim, 2013 Midwest Book Award and 2010 Lois Roth Persian Translation prize, as well as artist fellowship and residencies in the U.S., Mexico, Spain, Australia and Switzerland. Her plays have been finalists and semifinalists at at Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Centenary Stage Women Playwrights, Ojai Playwrights Festival, and Ashland New Plays Festival.
Her literary work includes five collections of poetry, several plays, three books of translations, and three anthologies. Her most recent publications include The Conference of the Birds (W.W. Norton & Co), Cómo escribir una canción de amor (Olifante Ediciones de Poesia, Spain), and Keeping Time with Blue Hyacinths (University of Arkansas Press.) Sholeh has performed her literary work with world-renowned musicians at Quincy Jones Presents series on The Broad Stage, Skirball Cultural Center Series, Los Angeles Aloud, The Broad Museum, LA County Museum of Art Ahmanson stage, Singapore Literature Festival, UNSW School of Arts and Media theater, and other venues. Her libretto for a new oratorio, The Conference of the Birds, composed by Fahad Siadat and choreographed by Andre Megerdichian will premiere in Los Angeles in 2022. Sholeh Wolpe travels internationally as a performing poet, writer and public speaker. She has also taught at UCLA— where she was the inaugural Writer-in-Residence in 2018— as well as University of Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program in the United States. She has lived in Iran, Trinidad and the UK, and presently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, sociologist Edward Telles. Sholeh is presently a Writer-in-Residence at University of California, Irvine.
Torange Yeghiazarian founded Golden Thread in 1996 where she launched such visionary programs as ReOrient Festival & Forum, Middle East America (in partnership with the Lark and Silkroad Rising), Islam 101 (with Hafiz Karmali), New Threads, and the Fairytale Players. Torange’s plays include ISFAHAN BLUES, 444 DAYS, THE FIFTH STRING: ZIRYAB’S PASSAGE TO CORDOBA, and CALL ME MEHDI. Awards include the Gerbode-Hewlett Playwright Commission Award (ISFAHAN BLUES) and a commission by the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (THE FIFTH STRING). Her short play CALL ME MEHDI is published in the anthology “Salaam. Peace: An Anthology of Middle Eastern-American Drama,” TCG 2009.
She adapted the poem, I SELL SOULS by Simin Behbehani to the stage, and directed the premieres of OUR ENEMIES: LIVELY SCENES OF LOVE AND COMBAT and SCENIC ROUTES by Yussef El Guindi, THE MYTH OF CREATION by Sadegh Hedayat, TAMAM by Betty Shamieh, STUCK by Amir Al-Azraki and VOICE ROOM by Reza Soroor, amongst others. Her articles on contemporary theatre in Iran have been published in The Drama Review (2012), American Theatre Magazine (2010), and Theatre Bay Area Magazine (2010), and HowlRound. Torange has contributed to the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures and Cambridge World Encyclopedia of Stage Actors. Born in Iran and of Armenian heritage, Torange holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University. Torange has been recognized by Theatre Bay Area and is one of Theatre Communication Group’s Legacy Leaders of Color. She was honored by the Cairo International Theatre Festival (2016) and the Symposium on Equity in the Entertainment Industry (2017).
Keyvan Sarreshteh is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Tehran. He graduated from B.A of Puppet Theater from the University of Tehran and since then he has worked as a writer, performer, director, researcher, translator, and lecturer. His focus is on Memory, Space and Location and correlation between these three as well as interpersonal relations and political powers. As a playwright, Keyvan Sarreshteh has been involved in various projects that highlighted his focus on concepts of political and personal histories. His works have been featured in many local and international festivals, including Adelaide Festival, Vienna Festwochen, Fadjr International Theater Festival, and so on. He was the artistic director of the Microleev Theater Festival between 2015-2019.
Leila Hekmatnia is a poet and playwright who has a Masters degree in theatre from the University of Tehran. She co-wrote the verbatim play ‘Manus’ based on the testimonies of asylum seekers held in Australia’s off-shore processing centre on Manus Island. The play was performed at the Adelaide festival in South Australia and internationally.
Aubrey is a leading Australian Theatre Director. Currently Senior Fellow at LASALLE, in Singapore, he was the first Australian to study Asian writing. Formerly Director of the Australian National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), he is well-known as an acting teacher to a generation of acclaimed Australian actors. He has directed for all major companies, commissioned and premiered plays by Australia’s leading playwrights and is a leading proponent of new Australian writing.
Aubrey founded several writing awards for playwrights and is an advisor to arts bodies including the Performing Arts Board of The Australia Council and The Australian National Playwright’s Conference. Awards include the OAM in 1992, the Australian Writer’s Guild’s Dorothy Crawford Award for services to Playwriting and the International Theatre Institute’s Uchimura Prize for best production, Tokyo International Festival.
Cheryl has edited several collections of international drama. After studying drama at Bristol University, she worked for the BBC and as a film lecturer. She founded the Virginia Prize for Fiction in 2009 in the UK. She is an award-winning playwright who has received Arts Council UK commission and option awards and had several plays produced. She ran a theatre company for several years in London, developing and producing international plays by women. She has won numerous awards for her filmmaking and was recently named a finalist in the ITV National Diversity awards – Lifetime Achievement.
“I was drawn to the characters. A Moment of Silence made me think about life, art, and freedom of expression.” – Mooney on Theatre
“Isfahan Blues is presented as a memory play…[and] this is a play that knows how to have fun with itself.” – Bay Area Reportero
“Manus, however, for all its pain, hums with vital life – not least the power, good and bad, of storytelling.” – The Guardian
read reviews of Manus:
Manus review: real-life stories of oppression told verbatim with vital storytelling | Theatre | The Guardian
Australia’s ‘shocking’ offshore immigration regime inspires play staged in Iran (theiranproject.com)
Teacher resources for Manus:
Microsoft Word – EDITED Manus JO copy GS.docx (adelaidefestival.com.au)