The research paper explores how a play, "Chess with the Doomsday Machine," directed by a Persian-Canadian artist, Shahin Sayadi, produced in English, would speak to various audiences in the West and the Middle East. The paper explains how the process of formation of the play is educational because both the Canadian artists in the play and the audiences of the play from various countries learned about the war and cultural issues. More importantly, the play bridged the Western and Middle Eastern cultures in a way that it generates powerful peacemaking meanings.
The essay examines how some young Iranians from Tehran use Pharrell Williams' "Happy," to reflect on the public boundaries and restrictions. "Happy" blurs the line between Hip Hop and popular culture. Most importantly, Hip Hop was emerged as a form of resistance and protest to systemic violence and oppression. "Happy We are from Tehran"—depicting some young male and female Iranians dancing with—was uploaded into some social media, particularly YouTube in May 2014, enabling an Iranian counter-public (Pace Warner 2002) to voice their position. What makes this video counter-public is its oppositional ideology about how the public sphere in Iran should subsist, because social gatherings for dancing or drinking alcohol and the usage of social media are prohibited. Such thoughts about the public sphere arouse the Iranian police to respond immediately. Conflicting with the Islamic Republic’s public norms using an American song which is published and circulated in social media forms a counter-public.
I argue that the incident of the Iranian Happy is an indicative of Iranian counter-public that is looking into announcing its existence in a global world. The videos and #freehappyiranians, and people’s reactions in Iran and outside of Iran in social media, though act as sociopolitical activism, are the performances within which the ideas of oppression, discrimination, and revolution can be discussed.
In Iranian state media, there is a well-established tradition of displaying racial biases toward the blacks in the USA to prove that the US government is unjust and corrupt. In the case of "Happy," Iranians disregarded the conflict between black and white races because such racial prejudice was somehow alien to them. The performance of “Happy” in Iran can be seen as a political action against the inequitable rights in Iran. The underground Iranian musicians utilize the concepts of protest, anger, and oppression in their work to talk about the Iranian society.
Al (Ali) Pour Issa's Conference Presentation at The American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), San Diego, California
The Undergraduate Theater Society of the University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Panelist: Ali Pour Issa, MFA, MA
The paper analyzes Mohammad Aghebati’s Hamlet and Mehdi Koushki’s Richard II that have been produced in Tehran in 2012-13. The dramaturgy of their productions in the process—from the translation to their production—is the main subject of the presentation. The artists tried to make the plays applicable for the Iranian audiences. In doing so, they cut, edited, rewrote, constructed, and arranged the texts. The article specifically discusses each performance, and what dramaturgy the productions obtained. I argue that the artists used the plays written by Shakespeare to get away from the censorship of the Islamic Ministry, and to find new ways to talk about their own social, political, and economical situations of Iran. (All the productions need to acquire approvals for their public performances in Iran.) I talk about the literal translations and publications of the plays, and then make analogies between them. The different approaches of the artists in the process of creation are discussed. The social, political, and economical implications are contextualized with the dramaturgy of each production.
Al (Ali) Pour Issa's Conference Presentation at “Conference of International Shakespeare: Translation, Adaptation, and Performance,” University of Massachusetts Amherst
Colloquium on Performativity and Translation
Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
Panelist: Ali Pour Issa, MFA, MA