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A scene from ‘His Excellency’s Nightmare’
A scene from ‘His Excellency’s Nightmare’

Real Historical Character, Events in Dark Comedy

In a talk with Financial Tribune Hossein Pakdel explains his work which deals with a real character in Iran’s contemporary history (former prime minister Qavam-ol-Saltaneh) and narrates major historical events during his life

Real Historical Character, Events in Dark Comedy

The play ‘His Excellency’s Nightmare’ written and directed by Iranian theater director and screenwriter Hossein Pakdel is currently on stage at Iranshahr Theater Hall in Tehran.
Pakdel won the best screenwriter award for the play at the 35th Fajr International Theater Festival (FITF) last month. In an interview with Financial Tribune’s Maryam Shojaei, he explained about his work which deals with a real character in Iran’s contemporary history and narrates major historical events during his life in a modern and grotesque way.
A dark comedy, the play chronicles the life of Ahmad Qavam, better known as Qavam-ol-Saltaneh (1873-1955), a politician who served as prime minister of Iran five times during both Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties.
Although based on true events, the director has manipulated the period of the historical incidents to dramatize the story.
“We recount the 82 years of Qavam’s life in just two hours with a fantasy approach. Most of the events are real but we have played with their time period, moving them back and forth,” Pakdel said adding that some new developments have been added.
The play is full of humor which makes the audience laugh but at the same time think about the issues involved. “We did not intend to present a comical portrayal of Qavam, so his character is not funny at all, and it is the surrounding people which create a humorous situation,” the director said.
Other elements of the play that have helped it make a connection with the audience are good make-up, costume and set design as well as live music. “A good play is a collection of all these aspects and they are inseparable. Together they produce a good theatrical work which can influence the viewers,” Pakdel said.  
The make-up design was nominated at the FITF and its set, Qavam’s house and actors’ costumes all have been accurately designed to resemble the time periods when the story takes place. The drama is also accompanied by live music on stage where traditional Iranian instruments tonbak, setar, kamancheh and violin are played.
Speaking on his award at the theater festival, Pakdel said, “Although we need encouragement, I would not get upset if I were not awarded. To me it was important that the whole group work is seen and now that it is honored I am also encouraged to take on more projects.”
The cast of ‘His Excellency’s Nightmare’ includes Hamidreza Naeemi, Atefeh Razavi, Mehdi Pakdel, Kourosh Tahami, Amirkaveh Ahaninjan, Arash Falahatpisheh and Niki Mozaffari among others.
As Pakdel said, he will work on a one-actor play to be staged in summer titled ‘Film Narrator’ in which Atefeh Razavi will perform. In the director’s words, the production is “interesting but very difficult”.
Besides directing, Pakdel, 57, is also an actor who has experiences as a TV host, producer and auctioneer as well.
‘His Excellency’s Nightmare’ will be staged through March 13 at Iranshahr Theater Hall located at Art Garden, N. Mousavi St., Taleqani St.

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