Art And Culture

11 Nations, 40 Articles at Ritual Theater Seminar

The seminar’s main topics are naqqali or dramatic story telling and ta’zieh, a condolence theater inspired by historical and religious events, emphasizing epic spirit and resistance
Mohsen Hashemi (L) and Morshed Saeedi
Mohsen Hashemi (L) and Morshed Saeedi

The 18th Traditional & Ritual Theater Festival will be held August 30-September 6 in Tehran. The event includes a research seminar slated for August 30-31.

Organized under the auspices of the Center for Ritual and Traditional Theater, Iranian Association of Performing Arts and the Performing Arts Department at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, the festival promotes research in reviewing and identifying traditional origins of performing arts.

The 5th International Seminar on Ritual and Traditional Plays will be organized on the sidelines of the upcoming festival, IRNA reported.

Veteran actor, theater director and author Davoud Fat’hali-Beygi, 66, is the secretary of the festival. He is head of the Center for Traditional & Ritual Plays based in Tehran. But the international research seminar included in the event is organized by theater researcher and practitioner Mohammd Hossein Nasserbakht.

The seminar’s main topics are naqqali or dramatic story telling and ta’zieh, a condolence theater inspired by historical and religious events, emphasizing epic spirit and resistance. The secretariat welcomes research articles on other rituals and traditions, Nasserbakht said.

Referring to cultural commonalities between Iran and the neighboring countries, Nasserbakht added: “Parts of Iran’s lost culture exist in other countries of the Middle East, particularly in the surrounding nations. We considered this while selecting works from among foreign submissions to the secretariat.”

Eleven foreign participants will attend the seminar, namely from Portugal, Bulgaria, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan Republic, Armenia, France, Canada, Belgium and UK.

“There are a total of about 40 articles, including both domestic and foreign. Some will be presented as posters, some as lectures. All of them will be published,” Nasserbakht said.

He spoke about two training workshops during the festival. One is on ‘Music of Ta’zieh,’ conducted by ta’zieh artist and musician Mohsen Hashemi. The other is on naqqali by veteran raconteur Morshed Saeedi, specializing in narration of Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (Book of kings).

The festival will have several sections: pond play (a satirical play originally performed on a wooden platform above a courtyard pond); lamentation ceremonies (in Persian: shabih-khani); traditional puppet play; review of ritual-traditional plays staged in 2015-2017; raconteur and folklore narratives, street performance, rituals and performing games; and traditional plays.

Jury members of the festival are Mohammad Hossein Nasserbakht, Seyed Azim Mousavi and Mehdi Lotfi, all playwrights and theater directors.

According to Fat’hali-Beygi, the number of participants in the upcoming edition of Traditional & Ritual Theater Festival has increased compared to the past.

There is a section for children and young adults. It has been introduced to support and promote ritual-traditional plays created by the youth. A group of young storytellers are also participating, executive director of the festival Peyman Shariati said.

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