Tonight I witnessed two acts of bravery in theatre, for the performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at World Theatre Festival in Brisbane, Australia at the Powerhouse. The play was written by Iranian man Nassim Soleimanpour to take his words to the world when he was denied a passport to travel. From Sarfraz Manzoor in The Guardian:
Soleimanpour is not allowed to leave his native Iran, as he is a conscientious objector who has refused to take part in military service, which is mandatory for all Iranian men. Unable to travel, Soleimanpour has turned his isolation to his own advantage with a play that is written in English but which requires no director, no set and a different actor for each performance. Each performer…read[s] Soleimanpour’s script for the first time on stage. “The audience are given my email address during the show,” the playwright explained via email from Iran, “and they can send me photographs and notes by mobile phone.”
This interactive play was “cold read” by the brave Helen Cassidy, as surreal an experience for the actress as it was for the audience. She wove a tale of oppression, betrayal and suicide by poison, with black humour. In Iran, theatre such as this is dangerous, perhaps bringing the writer closer to “suicide”. This cold reading allows her voice as an actress to come through, she experiences the same shock or surprise as the audience, as the narrative unfolds and twists and turns. During her performance I was thinking about the friend whose ticket I had to give away, as he had to be with his sister who was having complications with her pregnancy. Helen, the actress, was also pregnant, and would have been in the same trimester as my friend’s sister. I was already composing an email to Nasim in my head, about his play, about my experience and this strange reminder of birth and mortality, echoing events off the stage. He wrote to us from the lines he wrote in the play through Helen’s voice, how he was writing it from Shiraz, talking about Persepolis and Hafez’s tomb. In the email I composed in my head I wanted to tell him, I had a dream I visited Hafez’s tomb, and I poured wine from Shiraz on to the tomb, I poured the wine from my mouth.
The second act of bravery I witnessed was when a young man in the audience with a Persian accent stood up and interrupted the play, nervously. The actress didn’t know what was happening. He climbed on to the stage and revealed to us that he was Nassim Soleimanpour, granted his passport and seeing his play performed for the first time only a few months before. I had wanted to hug him through those pages and then suddenly he was in front of us, 168cm tall, 76kgs, thick eyebrows, blue green eyes and hairy, just like he told us in his play. He told us he was in the audience last night but he hid at the back. When he went to bed last night "the nightmares came back", and today he smoked for the first time in two years - "don’t tell my wife". He decided to get a ticket to see the play tonight too, to be brave and reveal himself. I gasped when he said his name, and then I was crying again. For a brief time he took the empty chair left for him in the audience, then went back to his original chair a few rows back.
At the end of the play the actress is instructed to lie on the stage (not easy when pregnant!) and the audience is instructed to file out. We clapped as is customary, but there was no opportunity for us give the actress or the writer our appreciation. I called his name, Nasim! Nasim! and we clapped and cheered for him as we filed out. He hurried shyly out of the theatre and disappeared.
For anyone who could think this was scripted — I saw his nervousness, and the actresses’ shock. There’s no way the producers would have _expected_ him to definitely come on stage or reveal himself, because of how nervous and shy he was. I believe it was entirely his choice, I believed his voice when he described agonising over it.
I am not sure if I can “talk” about this theatre experience without crying, it was something special.
“At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or a filmmaker–but because at a time when talk of war, intimidation and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics. I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.” - Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose film “A Separation,” won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film this year.
Sting - Russians (live)
I think someone needs to re-record this with the lyrics changed to, I hope the Iranians love their children too.
(of course they do, you warmongering fuckers)
There’s a loud thump. The man pretends not to hear and clears his throat. He continues to water the plants. Then another thump.
It’s coming from the basement. Suddenly a humming noise can be heard, but it’s dull and muffled. The man frowns and glances around quickly to make sure none of the neighbours have heard anything. There’s a good reason for this charade. Crammed into the basement below him are over 200 young Iranians. And they’re dancing.
I created this series of photos in response to Iran’s president Ahmadinejad’s naive comments that we do not have homosexuality in Iran. I wanted to say that we do have homosexuals and we have lots of them. My hope was to give solace to Muslims who feel they cannot be Muslims and homosexuals at the same time. I wanted to say that your love for God or belief in good for humanity should not determine who you’re choosing to love. My hope is that more people come to see that we should leave people to make their own choices, regarding who they want to love. I think the message of love from all of the prophets was lost, in all the noise from the later organizers of religions and their followers. I wish to remind people of that original intention of our belief in a higher good. (via curate) (via stfuislamophobes) (via elfrankenstein)
Iranian security guards drag partially-dressed female protesters away from a hall during an Iranian cultural event in Kiev November 11, 2010. Activists from the women’s rights organization “Femen” staged the protest in support of Iranian citizen Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, accused both of adultery and of being complicit in her husband’s murder. (REUTERS/Gleb Garanich) #
An activist from the women rights organization “Femen” shouts at an Interior Ministry officer as she takes part in a rally to support Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, by the Iranian embassy in Kiev, November 3, 2010. Ashtiani, whose sentence of execution by stoning for adultery provoked a worldwide outcry, will instead be hanged for the murder of her husband, a human rights group said. (REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin)
Iran’s National Poet Speaks Out On Recent Events In Her Country (via npr)
Alikhani’s Speech in Majlis in Support of Mousavi (English Subs) (via hamedhemmati)
Alikhani defending Mousavi and his alies in front of rowdy conservative Majlis members trying to prevent him from talking.
There has been a lot of confusion about the date. The date on the video refers to Iranian calendar 26th of Khordad 1388 which is 16th of June 2009. This video is from 4 days after the election day.