Art And Culture

Barba to Stage ‘The Tree’ in Tehran

A scene from the first performance of ‘The Tree’  in Holstebro, Denmark, earlier in September
A scene from the first performance of ‘The Tree’  in Holstebro, Denmark, earlier in September

Well-known Italian author and theater director Eugenio Barba is planning to stage his new play ‘The Tree’ in Tehran in February 2017, said Mehdi Shafiee, director general of the Department of Performing Arts at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

“Since a year and half ago, we’ve been pursuing Barba’s visit to Iran and it has now been finalized. The visit will also include a lecture and a workshop by Barba in early February, following the 35th Fajr International Theater Festival in January,” Shafiee told ISNA.

“The play, dramatized and directed by Barba, 80, is scheduled for February 4-8,” Shafiee said, but didn’t provide details of the venue.

  Multinational Group

Barba’s multinational Odin Teatret group will accompany him to Tehran to perform the play and assist him in the workshop. He founded the Odin in Oslo in 1964 and turned it into one of Europe’s leading theater troupes.

Initially, Odin thespians were all Norwegian. When the troupe moved to Holstebro, western Jutland, Denmark, two years later, performers were recruited from all over Scandinavia.

After the first performances at the Caracas Festival in Venezuela in 1976, Odin acquired significance across Latin America, through extensive touring and numerous workshops in Argentina, Columbia, Cuba, Peru, Chile and Mexico.

Odin has also performed in Japan (1979), New York (1984) and India (1985) among other countries. The tours led to the gradual internationalization of the group.

The group now has members from Italy, the US, Britain, Canada, Germany, Spain and Argentina.

“Today, Odin reads somewhat like a list of participants at an international conference,” says  Ian Watson, professor of Theater and Chair of the Department of Arts, Culture and Media at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, describing the theater group in his book ‘Towards a Third Theater: Eugenio Barba and the Odin Teatret.’

In Tehran, Barba and his theater group will also stage a public rehearsal of The Tree prior to the performance.

  The Story

The Tree was last staged at the National Theater of Budapest, last month.

On its website, Odin Teatret introduces the play, an allegory of the ongoing global events.

Two storytellers narrate the events: in the Syrian desert two Yazidi monks plant a pear tree to call back the birds that have disappeared; in Nigeria a mother rests under the shadow of the tree of forgetfulness holding in her arms the head of her daughter hidden in a gourd.

A European warlord explains the necessity for ethnic cleansing to an African warlord who performs a human sacrifice to make his army of child soldiers invulnerable before leading them into battle; a girl plays with her dolls around the tree her father planted when she was born, wondering how birds see the earth from the sky.

The ‘tree of history’ finally bends under the weight of its own burden.


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