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Theatre in Iran - Guardian article


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The Guardian runs an article on the current state of theatre in Iran. Interesting reading.

Humour was in short supply.

This is partly because there is a tendency in Iran to see theatre as pure, serious - not a branch of the entertainment industry. It's also pragmatic: the funniest show I saw, Koroush Narimani's adaptation of Jaroslav Hlasek's Good Soldier Svejk, fell foul of the censors because it uses the character of an ex-Jewish Catholic priest to ridicule the mullahs.

Censorship is one of the major issues facing Iranian artists today. The government - or its theatre arm, the Dramatic Arts Centre (DAC) - will not license any production that is critical of contemporary society.

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The Guardian runs an article on the current state of theatre in Iran. Interesting reading.
Humour was in short supply.

.

It WAS interesting. The comments on the large segment of the population that is young surprised me.

But it must be a bit tricky to establish a theatrical community. I wish them well and probably given time many changes will happen there.

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Thanks so much, dirac, for that article. It opens a small door on a country which is now at the center of US foreign policy talk, but about which we who are Americans -- and this includes our national government -- know almost nothing.

The following section about "body theater" (the euphemistic term for dance) is both sad and touching.

The more fundamental restrictions, however, are cultural rather than political. "In Iran, we have all these limitations on how we use the body," says the actress Sara Reyhani. "Before we even move, we have to censor ourselves." Her interests, she says, "are in contact improvisation and dance. But we're not allowed to touch one another, and we're not allowed to dance." Nor is she, or any other actress, allowed to remove her headscarf. Reyhani currently has one arm in plaster, and she and director Arvand Dashtaray used this in a dance piece (or, to dodge the censors, "body theatre") in which a man and a woman flirt with the idea of touching one another. Eventually they do touch - but only through plaster.
Iran has one of the youngest populations in the world.
70 percent of Iran's population is under 30.
This 70% have never lived in a society that was not "Islamist." The implications for the future are not clear. Those in the West who are Tehran-centered (including much of the very large Iranian diaspora in the US and Europe) tend to see this as hopeful. The thinking is: the young are open to cultural influences from the west via the internet, satellite tv, etc.

However, as to what the effect will be in the majority of the country not touched by the higher forms of western culture -- and not often visited by Iranians from the West who are returning or visiting their families -- who knows?

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I was also struck by the youth of the population.

bart writes:

However, as to what the effect will be in the majority of the country not touched by the higher forms of western culture -- and not often visited by Iranians from the West who are returning or visiting their families -- who knows?

No way to tell, it’s true – but as you and the article point out, bart, the situation is more complex than it’s often shown to be. Despite the restrictions and the difficulties, it sounded to me as if there’s a very healthy spirit abroad in the artistic community there. (And it’s interesting to note that the theatre festival was set up after the revolution, not before.)

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(And it’s interesting to note that the theatre festival was set up after the revolution, not before.)
Indeed. And "25th Anniversary" means 1982, which was early in the catastrophic Iran-Iraqi War and a time when the Ayatollah Khomeini was very much around and in power. I wonder what the early festivals looked like. Today's Iran may seem very "llberal" to artists compared to then.
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Despite the restrictions and the difficulties, it sounded to me as if there’s a very healthy spirit abroad in the artistic community there.

And let's not forget the very imaginative cinema that has come out of Iran in the past two decades: Mohsen Mahmalbaf, Samira Mahmalbaf and others. Some of that was very political - in the broad sense of the word.

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Despite the restrictions and the difficulties, it sounded to me as if there’s a very healthy spirit abroad in the artistic community there.

And let's not forget the very imaginative cinema that has come out of Iran in the past two decades: Mohsen Mahmalbaf, Samira Mahmalbaf and others. Some of that was very political - in the broad sense of the word.

Good point - this article focused primarily on the performing arts.

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