Art And Culture

‘Comment’ Comes With a New Concept

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‘Comment’ Comes  With a New Concept
‘Comment’ Comes  With a New Concept

A row with a cab driver, domestic disturbance, or a mean tweet: violence is everywhere in life and serves as the main theme of a new play on stage in Tehran. ‘Comment’ co-written by Bahar Katoozi and Mohammad Monem opened to the public at the weekend.

According to director Yousef Bapiri, “cases of violence may not always be as explicitly gruesome as IS mass beheadings, but living in a world where cases of extreme violence occur on a near daily basis has significantly lowered our tolerance threshold.”

He was referring to the so-called Islamic State militant group spreading death and destruction in Iraq and Syria in recent months with unprecedented brutality, including violence against innocent women and children.

In a talk with Financial Tribune, Monem, who has previously worked as writer, director, and translator, on several different projects, said “two tragically violent real-life cases that went viral on the internet in Iran made the initial building blocks with which the team worked and developed the final material for the play.”

One was the story of an underage schizophrenic boy who had murdered a girl with a butcher’s knife. The other, the case of a young woman who had been terrorized in an ‘acid attack’ but with an astonishing twist: the liquid splashed upon her was, not acid, but water. The shock of the scam, however, was so grave that the victim suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized.   


After hearing about these stories, and inspired by documentary theater performances she had seen in Switzerland, Katoozi was initially motivated to create a unique piece of her own. The concept found meaning and essence in collaboration with Monem.

Having carried out extensive theoretic research, the team focused on three major levels of violence: the explicit, the interpersonal, and the implicit, outlined in the works of Slovenian philosopher and social theorist of international fame, Slavoj Zizek

What initially intrigued the writers in particular were the impressionability of internet users and the questionable virtual personas they adapt. The world of the internet seems to offer a certain comfort in a context where the use of harshly aggressive language and inappropriate content – typical taboos in real life  –  are suddenly legitimized. “This is most explicitly visible in users’ comments on public videos, photos, news stories et al. Hence the name of the play,” Monem said.

  Documentary Drama

While Bapiri and Monem had cautiously lent the ‘documentary’ label to their previous theatrical collaboration ‘Ruin,’ they have refused the same for ‘Comment.’

A primary notion needed for a theatrical performance to carry the documentary designation is the presence of either a valid historical event or reliable statistical data, the writer says.

Nearly 70 percent of ‘Ruin’ (pivoted around the possibility, scope, and consequences of an earthquake in Tehran) was based on statistical data. ‘Comment’ on the other hand, mostly incorporates personal experience actors have had, and cannot be strictly categorized as documentary drama.

According to the writer, rather than offering solutions for or investigating the underlying reasons behind different forms of violence in our lives, the play mainly acts as an invitation to contemplation and self-reflection, as it seeks to place the audience face to face with their own attitude towards violence.

The play will continue until May 21, at Iranshahr Hall, located at Art Garden, North Mousavi St., Taleqani Ave., Tehran.