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West Asian theater delegates in Tehran signed a memorandum of understanding on November 1.
West Asian theater delegates in Tehran signed a memorandum of understanding on November 1.

Iran Proposes West Asian Regional Theater Center

With their messages, artists from all over the world have proved that humanitarian values can be shared between nations in spite of their geopolitical differences

Iran Proposes West Asian Regional Theater Center

The ‘Meeting of West Asian Countries, General Directors of Performing Arts’ officially convened on October 31 at Ferdowsi International Grand Hotel in Tehran.

“Theater can help us exchange and share thoughts and feelings with societies through dialogue,” said Ali Moradkhani, cultural deputy of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, addressing the gathering.

Expressing hope that the meeting would result in effective international cooperation in the future, he proposed the establishment of an international center for exchange of prominent artistic productions, ILNA reported.

Directors from the 12 nations—Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Oman, Qatar, Algeria, Tunisia, Azerbaijan Republic, Lebanon and Russia and Iran--signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at expansion of ties and stressing cultural commonalities, on the concluding day of the event Tuesday,  November 1.

“Endorsement of this MoU is of great significance. We managed to achieve the desired result at this brief opportunity,” said Mehdi Shafiee, director general at the ministry’s Department of Performing Arts.

It was agreed that the meeting of West Asian theater representatives should be held annually to pursue the goals of the MoU. The host country for the next meeting will be announced in three months.

“When regional countries highlight their cultural commonalities, they will be able to manage their diplomatic ties smoothly,” said Shafiee.

He referred to the widespread conflicts in various parts of the world. Today, art should take a strong stance against the senseless brutality and extremism.

“With their messages, artists from all over the world have proved that humanitarian values can be shared between nations in spite of their geopolitical differences. Free from all political considerations and profit motive, artists focus on the numerous similarities and commonalities between various cultures.”

“Theater as a global legacy serves humanity as a common medium and is an opportunity to discuss human plight and possibilities,” he noted.

In Iran, private and independent theater foundations are on the rise. The Department of Performing Arts is the main state organization to support theater groups and their productions. In recent years, however, other state bodies have also joined as patrons of theater, the official said.

“International theater tours are among our priorities and in turn we are enthusiastic about the presence of foreign theater groups, particularly from regional nations, in our country.”

Shafiee said Iran had invited theater representatives from West Asia and North Africa “to discuss establishment of a larger theater community with international facilities” and invited the foreign representatives to come out with their proposals.

 Delegates Speak on Their National Theaters

Hassan Salilani, special envoy from the Algerian Ministry of Culture said “Algeria’s theater emphasizes social improvement and fight against colonialism.”

Algerian theater has performed in other countries since 1963 and promoted Algerian resistance against the French colonialism. “There are 15 theater halls across Algeria today staging plays for adults and children throughout the year. Algerian people are now showing more interest in theater.”

On Afghan theater, Seyyed Mansour Rahmani, director general of Afghanistan’s National Theater Department said Kabul, Esteqlal, Zeynab theater halls and Radio Television Afghanistan as well as the Faculty of Fine Arts are the top promoters of theater activities in the country.

“The smallest hall in Afghanistan accommodates 150 people and the largest 800. There are also private theater groups legally operating and participating at festivals.”

Afghan artists participate in foreign events and prominent masters of performing arts are invited to Afghan universities, Rahmani added.

“In Iraq, we are seeking to consolidate Islamic-Arabic values,” in theater, according to art advisor at Iraq’s Cinema and Theater Department, Ahmad Hassan Moussa Saedi.

Concerns over “government pressure” on Iraq’s national theater have been expressed by artists. “There are 20 theater groups in Iraq staging performances independently without the patronage of the government,” he noted.

Secretary of Iran’s International Resistance Theater Festival, Hussein Mosafer-Astaneh said the meeting had brought hope and positivity for regional cooperation. “This good feeling should be sustained,” he said and hoped the cultural interaction will not fizzle out after the event concludes.

In essence, theater creates social and cultural awareness. “The role of theater is to bring nations together and raise awareness on the issue of resistance against violence and terrorism,” he added.

 

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