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Zahra Sabri Takes Her Puppets to Polish Museum

 Zahra Sabri and her puppets used in different plays Zahra Sabri and her puppets used in different plays

An exhibition of stage puppets of theater director, playwright, puppet maker and stage designer Zahra Sabri is underway at the Museum of Toys and Play in Kielce, which is the oldest museum of toys in Poland.

Housed in a historic 19th century building, the museum displays historical and folk toys, dolls from across the world, model cars, airplanes, boats, railway models and theatrical toys. 

Sabri’s exhibit showcases puppets used in six plays she directed and performed by her group Yas-e Tamam, Mehr News Agency reported.

‘Eight Moments’ is one of the plays whose puppets are on display. The story is about a child who goes to God, asking, “I’ve heard that I’m to be sent to the world. Who will protect me there?

The puppets are also taken from ‘Parrot’s Feather,’ a play based on 13th century Persian poet Rumi’s story of ‘The Parrot and the Merchant’. In the story, an imprisoned parrot feigns death and is thus cast out of the cage by the merchant who owned it. The bird gains its freedom and flies away.

In Sabri’s play, however, a fish tries the same trick but is cast on dry soil where it dies trying to reach the sea.

Another play contributing to the exhibit is ‘Earth and Universe’ that received the Grand Prize from the second edition of Hawler International Theater Festival 2012 in Erbil, Iraq. Here again, Sabri has turned to Rumi’s works, starting from ‘Ney-Nameh’ (Book of Ney), the first chapter of the poet’s famous collection Masnavi, and ending with ‘Moses and the Shepherd’ where Moses overhears a shepherd’s devotional yet prayers and then rebukes the naïve man’s presumptions.

A peacock that plucks its own feathers, a cow on a lonely island and a monk who is visited by Satan are among the other episodes of Earth and Universe.

  Anti-War Plays 

There are puppets in the exhibit which have come from ‘The House of Bernard Alba’. It is Yas-e Tamam’s production of Federico Garcia Lorca’s play, about a manipulative widow and her five daughters living an isolated life against an impending backdrop of fascism. The play has been on stage in the past in Iran, Spain, France and Lebanon.

Stuffed clay puppets of ‘Count to One’, an anti-war play adapted from quatrains of Khayyam, are among the dolls on display. Count to One is about three soldiers who refrain from destroying a city.

‘Naneh Delavar (courageous mother) and Her Children’ is another anti-war play contributing to the puppet exhibition. It is an adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s play ‘Mother Courage’ written in an attempt to counter the rise of fascism and Nazism. 

Sabri, 50, began her career in 1990, when she set up the Yas-e Tamam Theater Company. Her works have been presented and awarded in Iran, France, Poland, Germany, Tunisia, Russia, India, Sweden, Spain, and Kazakhstan. Her theater is strictly poetic, varied in form, sophisticated in style, and drawing both from Persian theater and western aesthetics.

Sabri said the exhibit will run through March 9, and then the dolls will leave the museum to attend a two-month exhibit in Lodz in central Poland.

 

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