Art And Culture

Solo Actor Playing 8 Roles

Asghar Hemmat Asghar Hemmat

A play by two directors and performed by a solo actor who plays eight different roles is underway at Sangalaj Theater Hall in downtown Tehran.

‘The Portrait of a Collapsed Man’ opened on September 5 and will run through September 26. “It is based on a series of research we did on the life of Abdul Hussein Noushin, trying to shed light on the humanitarian traits of his character,” one of the two directors of the play, Araz Barseqian, 32, also an active translator, told Mehr News Agency.

Noushin (1907-1971) was a pioneer theater director, playwright and researcher. He was among the editors of 1960-1971 Moscow Critical Edition of Shahnameh, the long epic poem written by the celebrated Persian poet Ferdowsi between 977 and 1010 CE. “Our play poses a few questions about Noushin’s ideas. Our attempt to provide the audience with some answers may offer some insight into his beliefs and origins of his thoughts.”

The play consists of two parts of Noushin’s life. The first shows him in 1952. He has just fled the notorious Qasr Prison, one of the oldest prisons in Iran that was later turned into a museum complex. A fugitive in Tehran, he is waiting for his comrades to send him across the border. It is just for a short while, before he can return to Iran to resume theater activities. It also offers a glimpse into his farther past with flashbacks to the 1930s and 40s.  

The second act takes stock of a later time in 1970: Noushin is in Moscow now. Old and exhausted, he has not been able to return home and his days are numbered. He is packing up and getting ready for medical treatment in a hospital in Moscow.

Barseqian credited the members of the theater group for the final outcome. “Though the play is based on facts and documents, it owes its forma to our imagination.”

“We don’t often write monodramas. What is usually produced today is monologue. Our performance does not have some of the charms other shows have. Some have reduced the theater atmosphere with  cheap jokes just to make their show appealing,” Barseqian said.

“For those who know Abdul Hussein Noushin, The Portrait of a Collapsed Man may open new vistas into his life; those who don’t know him will see a man with political, social and artistic traits.”

Barseqian and playwright, translator and theater researcher Gholam Hussein Dolatabadi, 36, who is another director of the play, spent 6 months researching and writing their joint production.

The Portrait of a Collapsed Man is a one-act play, in which film and theater actor and makeup artist Asghar Hemmat, 63 plays eight different roles.

The play starts at 7:30 on all days except Saturdays.