Thursday, August 18, 2011

Randy Gener Publishes in the Iranian City of Tehran

TEHRAN, IRAN:   Randy Gener's essay, "Reorientalism," about the emergence of a new category of Middle East-American drama in the U.S., has been published in a new anthology of critical essays and scholarly articles as part of an annual festival held in the Iranian capital city of Tehran.

Released in three languages (English, Persian and French), the book, entitled "About the Phenomenon of Theatre," was published by Namayesh, a state subsidized theater magazine in Iran.  It was compiled by Nasrollah Ghaderi, in cooperation with Katayoon Hussein zadeh and Ali Najafi.

"About the Phenomenon of Theatre" was officially released in February 2011 during the 29th edition of the Fajr International Theatre Festival where a majority of the awards went to Iran, Germany, Italy and Estonia.  The book was then distributed during the 2011 edition of the Europe Theatre Prize, which took place in St. Petersburg in Russia.

In an interview with the Iran Book News Agency, Katayoon Hussein zadeh describes the anthology's main thrust: "Most of the articles are about documentary theatre, political theatre, the formation of political theatre and its process. Every writer has presented his work according to the art in his country. The article's analytic information is incredible. Such a kind of book was not released in Iran so far."

Moreover she said that distributing the book during the awarding ceremonies of the European Theater Prize (Premio Europa) in St. Petersburg was an opportunity for an international audience to appreciate the high-quality of critical essays being published in Iran today.

The book is divided into English and French sections. The English section included such essays as:
  • "Idioms of South Asian Theater" by Abhi Subedi;
  • "At the Crossroads" by Andrzej Zurowski, about Polish theater;
  • "The theatre and economics, the British experience" by John Elsom;
  • "Chinese women's liberation road on the stage" by Dr. Zhu Ning;
  • "Enchanted by the BRAVE festival" by Kalina Stefanova of Bulgaria;
  • "Slovenian drama as the globalization's litmus test" by Kristof Jacek kozak;
  • "The importance of being obedient" by the Finnish critic Matti Linnavuori;
  • "Where is the emerging point in today's Swedish performing arts" by Margareta Sorenson;
  • "The Barbican international theatre event in London" by Maria Shevtsova
  • "The national theatre of Scotland, a theatre without walls" by Mark Brown
  • "Theatre of revolution-history, theatre, document and life" by Petr Christov of the Czech Republic;
  • "Two Lithuanian Hamlets: The metaphysics of ice and mirrors" by Ramune Marcinkeviciute;
  • "Reorientalism," a critical essay about the emergence of Arab-American theater voices, by Randy Gener of the USA;
  • "Who will be the king or directors' merciless fight for power against playwright in the European theatre" by Sanja Nikcevic of Croatia;
  • "National critics and the postmodern world: bridging the gap" by Savas Patsalidis of Greece;
  • "The community sensitive theatre maker" by Tamas Jaszay;
  • "Contemporary performance or whatever happened to the performative revolution" by Tomaz Toporisic;
  • "The burden of existence" by Tomasz Milkowski of Poland;
  • "The critical reception of Eastern/ Central European theater in Korea since 1989 by Yun-Cheol Kim of South Korea; and
  • "European theatre 2000-2010" by Ian Herbert of the U.K.
Gener's essay, "Reorientalism," greatly expands on an initial report he had written in 2010 about San Francisco's ReOrient Festival at Theatre Artaud in San Francisco, organized by Golden Thread Productions. At the time of this festival, President Barack Obama gave an Afghanistan war speech at West Point that left many Americans feeling deja vu all over again. "I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan," the president said. The rest of Obama's speech suggested that  U.S. interests, its means and its responsibilities are finite in Afghanistan, but they do exist. As Obama put it, "We simply can't afford to ignore the price of these wars."

Using Obama's history-in-the-making war speech, "Reorientalism" offers a critical context on the emergence of a new genre of Middle Eastern-American drama in the U.S. and surveys in more comprehensive depth the new voices, ensembles and theater companies that have represented that specific immigrant community. (A shorter version of this essay had appeared in the March 2010 issue of American Theatre magazine.)

During this year's event, the Fajr International Theatre Festival presented about 153 performances by Iranian and 3 international ensembles.  Iranian performers put on stage some 137 works from different cities including Mashhad, Karaj, Kermanshah, Varamin, Sanandaj, Isfahan, Tabriz, Lahijan, Sari and Yazd.

Groups from Italy, the Czech Republic, Russia, Switzerland, China, Germany, Canada, South Korea, Greece, Poland and Estonia also participated in the festival. The 2011 Fajr International Theater Festival was held from February 5 to 20 in the Iranian provinces of Alborz, Tehran, Gilan, Golestan and North Khorasan.

Iran holds international Fajr film, theater, music and visual arts festivals on a yearly basis to mark the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
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