Iran is one of the oldest civilizations in history. Persian theater, influenced by Arab, Assyrian and other cultures of the Middle East, has created many rich traditions of performance from ancient times through the modern day. Yet this vibrant heritage remains woefully underrepresented on American stages.
The Brick proposes to expand the boundaries of this cultural moment, and collaborate with Iranian theater artists in the U.S. and abroad, by hosting and producing the first festival in New York devoted solely to Iranian Theater.
The festival will include new works, in Persian and English, from legendary Iranian exile and Helman-Hammet Grant Award-winner Assurbanipal Babilla, a celebration of Reza Abdoh, Two Stories That End in Suicide by Piehole (inspired by Sadegh Hedayet's The Blind Owl), A preview excerpt from Brendan Regimbal & Samara Naeymi's Aviary, Leila Ghaznavi's Silken Veils, newly-commissioned contemporary works from Iranian-based playwrights and participants of the Fadjr InterNational Theatre Festival and a special celebration of the traditional Iranian New Year's holiday, Nowruz.
The Iranian Theater Festival will run March 3-26 at The Brick (575 Metropolitan Avenue between Union and Lorimer, Brooklyn). Tickets ($15) will go on sale Monday, February 14 and may be purchased online at www.bricktheater.com or by calling Theatermania at 212-352-3101.
Ballet Iranian Style, or What is the World Coming to?
Created by Assurbanipal Babilla
Presented by Purgatorio Ink
An experimental improvised theatrical ballet in Persian and English by Assurbanipal Babilla and his demented muses. You thought you'd seen everything, done everything. Well, you're wrong! You've always been wrong. We promise not to kill you with beauty. Your nerve endings are about to be tested. You'll have something to leave for your grandchildren. Don't worry, there's nothing funny about this experimental, conceptual, Aristotelian logic. It's tragic in the extreme. Get ready to hear whispered expletives. We're out to seduce all your senses.
Something Something Uber Ales
Written by Assurbanipal Babilla & Directed by Michael Yawney.
Performed by Matthew Glass
A bizarre and dramatic journey of epic proportions, as our lonely actor recalls the life of a man whose only noticeable feature is that he is Hitler's doppelganger. Listen as he is discovered by two gay pastry chefs and inducted into a Hitler worshipping cult located miles and miles below the F Train in Midtown Manhattan.
Written & directed by Leila Ghaznavi
Presented by Pantea Productions
An elegant hybdrization of Rumi poetry, marionettes, shadow puppets, live performance, animation, and contemporary Iranian history, Silken Veils in an original work showing the turbulence and passion of family during the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Told through the eyes of Darya, the daughter character in this piece, we see how the Revolution pulled down her family as she recounts her memories to her fiancée on their wedding day. Fringe First Nominee at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. www.silkenveils.net
2 Stories That End in Suicide
Presented by Piehole
2 Stories That End in Suicide uses video, puppetry, and live actors to tell the story of contemporary youth in Iran, and the limitations of Western media representations. We draw from two seemingly disparate novels (Cesare Pavese's Among Women Only and Sadegh Hedayet's The Blind Owl), as well as the censorship laws required by the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the blogging habits of young Iranians. Tying these threads together with our distinctive brand of strangeness and humor, we probe ideas of private and public suffering and examine the repressed and complex conditions in Iranian society. www.pieholed.com
Aviary, A preview excerpt
Created by Brendan Regimbal & Samara Naeymi
In a lush world of dense media-scapes, dance and traditional storytelling are used to collide the story of Scheherazade and her sister with the Victorian era's Isabel Burton and Jane Digby. The full-length production of Aviary will premiere at the Incubator Arts Project in June 2011. www.snaeymi.com/sn/Current
Pen Pals Meet: A Conversation Between Eliza and Salar
Presented by Thinking Persons Theatre
In 2008 Eliza Bent received an email from Salar Sardary, an Iranian university student, who asked about how to view American Theatre Magazine online. From that interaction, an unlikely sporadic pen pal friendship formed. Two years later the pen pals meet officially over Skype and have a conversation, live on stage.