Art And Culture

Veteran Ali Rafiee Demands Better Deal for Theater Actors

Theater reflects the aspirations and dreams of the people in the community. It is a medium to voice criticism on the social and economic shortcomings to the government
Veteran Ali Rafiee Demands Better Deal for Theater Actors
Veteran Ali Rafiee Demands Better Deal for Theater Actors

The 35th Fajr International Theater Festival concluded on Tuesday at Tehran’s Vahdat Hall by honoring veteran theater and movie director Ali Rafiee, 78, for a lifetime of achievement in the performing arts.

Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Reza Salehi Amiri, his deputy Ali Moradkhani, festival secretary Saeed Asadi and a number of Iranian and foreign artists were present, Honaronline reported.

Addressing the cultural elite, Rafiee said he came prepared to deliver a long speech from his 12-page text, but would suffice with a few paragraphs. 

“The main task of theater and the main mission of a director are to convey the joys of acting to the actors and delight to the spectators watching; otherwise theater is worth nothing.”

Ruing the quality of theater halls and the lack of job security and respect for professional theater artists’ he said, “Promote theater, and respect theater artists. Theater reflects the aspirations and dreams of the people in the community. Theater is a medium to voice criticism on the (social and economic) shortcomings, to the government.”

Turning to the culture minister, he said, “The joy of theater should surely not be discovered in the basements of city theaters!”

Three veteran artists spoke about Rafiee’s unique sense of aesthetics in theater and cinema. 

Veteran cinematographer Mahmoud Kalari, 65, who collaborated with Rafiee’s first film 10 years ago, said, “It is a pity he has just made two films during his life. His contribution to the theater aesthetics is everlasting and his works can serve as educational programs for students in the field.”

Theater director Hussein Pakdel, 57, also pointed to Rafiee as an accomplished artist with a deep knowledge of literature, who creates poetical works with a social approach. 

Well-known movie, theater and TV actor Reza Kianian, 65, paid tribute to Rafiee, saying that he is indebted to him. “I am indebted to three teachers in theater. My brother, Davoud, who formed my thought foundations in art, Hamid Samandarian, the late theater director, and Ali Rafiee who is high-minded in terms of theater, acting, aesthetics and thinking. I have learned (a lot) from him in theater.”

Rafiee, who has a PhD in theater from Sorbonne University in France, has staged over 10 plays including ‘Antigone’ written by the ancient Greek tragedian Sophocles, ‘Crime and Punishment’ by Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky, ‘Blood Wedding’ by Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca and ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. 

Special set designs and lighting and brilliant performances by actors under his direction are among the characteristics of his works.

Reacting to what Rafiee said, the culture minister promised to double the theater budget in the upcoming fiscal year that starts in March.

Calling theater the mother of arts, Salehi Amiri added, “We should pay attention to infrastructure development in this field and we will do (our best).”

Paying attention to the young generation in theater is also important. “Over 90 plays are staged every night in Tehran. We should lay the groundwork for the emergence of creativity and talent.”

  Winners Awarded

At the end of the ceremony, the best of various sections were awarded the festival statuette and cash prizes. 

Winners in the International Theater Competition included: Parsa Pirouzfar, who received the best actor award for the play ‘Matryoshka’ and Fatemeh Naqavi, best actress award for ‘Diabolic: Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘The Trumpet of Israfil’. The best screenwriter award went to Hossein Pakdel for ‘His Excellency’s Nightmare’.

Jerzy Zon from Poland received the best director award for ‘Chorus of Orphans’. The polish play also received the special award of the section.

In Iran’s Theater Review Competition section, Hedayat Hashemi won the best actor award for playing in ‘The Tale of a Tiger’ and Asghar Hemmat, the special prize in the category ‘Portrait of a Fallen Man’. Nasim Adabi won the best actress award for ‘Unhealable Wound’. 

The jury did not recognize any of the nominees in the categories of the best screenwriter and best director but just commended two figures in each category.

Winners of Environmental, Alternative, Interactive and Outdoor Theater Competition and Youth Theater Competition also received awards.

In each section, best of make-up and costume design, music, lighting and set design were also awarded.

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