Art And Culture

Down Syndrome Patients to Perform in Fajr Theater Festival

Posters of ‘White Umbrellas’ (L) and ‘The Legend of the Rainless Meadow’Posters of ‘White Umbrellas’ (L) and ‘The Legend of the Rainless Meadow’

A group of actors with Down syndrome will perform street theater “The Legend of the Rainless Meadow” on January 27 and January 30, as part of the 35th Fajr International Theater Festival which is underway. 

The group will also perform two stage plays, “The Legend of Mother Fish” and “White Umbrellas.” The three plays are based on Iranian folklore and a total of 15 people are participating. 

For years, writer and director Rasoul Haqshenas has been working on drama therapy for people with Down syndrome. Iran’s Down Syndrome Center is the producer of the plays, Mehr News Agency reported. 

Drama therapy is the use of theater techniques to facilitate personal growth and promote mental health.

Haqshenas claimed that this is the “first group in the world whose actors have Down syndrome and are performing street theater.” 

The group is performing for the third time in the Fajr International Theater Festival. In 2012, they performed in the International Children’s Theater Festival in India and were nominated as one of the best performances. 

  The Ultimate Goal

Haqshenas, who supervises the group, elaborated on the differences between drama as therapy, and performances that simply cast people with disabilities. In the latter, disabled actors are cast instead of the usual actors and practice to perform a predetermined play. In drama therapy the ultimate goal is not only to perform; certain therapeutic techniques are executed and a corresponding play is chosen afterwards. 

“This is an opportunity for the actors to display their abilities to the public, namely the ability to focus on the task for 20 minutes in crowded surroundings. It will boost their confidence and the society will also observe the empowering of people with Down syndrome,” he said.

“My main concern in this field is education; there are very few Iranian specialists when it comes to promoting theater as therapy,” he said, adding that he would like to hold educational workshops on drama therapy across Iran. 

The “Legend of the Rainless Meadow” will be performed in the courtyard of Iranian Artists Forum located on North Mousavi St., Taleghani Ave., and also at the City Theater Complex located at the junction of Vali Asr and Enqelab Avenues. 

The other two plays will be staged at Mashayekhi Theater hall at No 1478, Enqelab Avenue, on January 27-29. The festival concludes on January 31.

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