The Iranian Theater Festival


March 3 - 26, 2011

at The Brick


Iran is one of the oldest civilizations in history. Persian theater, influenced by Arab, Assyrian and other cultures of the Middle East, has created many rich traditions of performance from ancient times through the modern day. Yet this vibrant heritage remains woefully underrepresented on American stages.

The Brick proposes to expand the boundaries of this cultural moment, and collaborate with Iranian theater artists in the U.S. and abroad, by hosting and producing the first festival in New York devoted solely to Iranian Theater.

The festival will include plays in Persian and English, such as Something Something Uber Alles written by Iranian exile and Helman-Hammet Grant Award-winner Assurbanipal Babilla, Two Stories That End in Suicide by Piehole (inspired by Sadegh Hedayet’s The Blind Owl), a preview excerpt from Brendan Regimbal & Samara Naeymi's Aviary, Leila Ghaznavi’s Silken Veils,newly-commissioned contemporary works from Iranian-based playwrights and participants of the Fadjr International Theatre Festival and a special celebration of the traditional Iranian New Year’s holiday, Nowruz.

A special celebration of the late theater legend Reza Abdoh will include exclusive screenings of complete films of his original productions The Hip-Hop Waltz of Eurydice and Quotations from a Ruined City with special panel discussions by Dar a Luz company members, including Sabrina Artel, Juliana Francis-Kelly and Tony Torn.

The Iranian Theater Festival will run March 3-26 at The Brick (575 Metropolitan Avenue between Union and Lorimer, Brooklyn). Tickets ($15 unless otherwise indicated) will go on sale February 14 and may be purchased online at or by calling Theatermania at 212-352-3101.

High Resolution Photos Available here.


The Iranian Theater Festival
March 3 - 26, 2011

at The Brick

Free Festival Events:

Cover Girl/ Pen Pals Meet: A Conversation Between Eliza and Salar
Two free events in one night to open the festival!

Cover Girl
Written and performed by Safa Samiezade'-Yazd
An Iranian American woman growing up in St. Louis feels like a stranger in a strange land. She uses her veil to cover herself, and the veil becomes a kind of "childhood home." Gradually, in dance interludes between her stories, she strips away all false interpretations of the veil, examining what "veiling" really means in Iran and in the United States. 
45 minutes

Pen Pals Meet: A Conversation Between Eliza and Salar
Presented by Thinking Persons Theatre
Iran & NYC
In 2008 Eliza Bent received an email from Salar Sardary, an Iranian university student, who asked about how to view American Theatre Magazine online. From that interaction, an unlikely sporadic pen pal friendship formed. Two years later the pen pals meet officially over Skype and have a conversation, live on stage.
30 minutes

Thu March 3 @ 8pm


Join The Brick and the 2011 Iranian Theater Festival for a pre-Iranian New Year party beginning at 5PM on Sunday, March 13. This annual Persian celebration dates back millenia to pre-Islamic ancient Zoroastrian rituals marking the Spring Solstice. We will have traditional food, music, poetry and other entertainments to mark "Noruwz" or New Day. Traditional celebrations stretch over a period of 13 days of visits, charity, renewal and reconciliation with the last day reserved for picnicking in the outdoors.

March 13 at 5pm


Mainstage Shows:
All shows $15 unless otherwise noted.


Aviary (A preview excerpt)/In Media Res/White Rabbit, Red Rabbit
Three performancesfor one ticket price!

Aviary, A preview excerpt
Created by Brendan Regimbal & Samara Naeymi
In a lush world of dense media-scapes, dance and traditional storytelling are used to collide the story of Scheherazade and her sister with the Victorian era’s Isabel Burton and Jane Digby. The full-length production of Aviary will premiere at the Incubator Arts Project in June 2011.  
15 minutes

In Medias Res
Written & performed by Sade Namei
In Medias Res explores the identity of an Iranian-born actor who journeys through the space of identity, nation, and sex. Haunted by a sense of pride and responsibility, she is compelled to change past and recent history with her instrument, her voice.  In Medias Res was originally performed as a part of an ensemble piece at PS 122 with workshop nudges of performance artist and activist Tim Miller.
15 minutes

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit
Written by Nassim Soleimanpour
Iran & NYC
Playwright Nassim Soleimanpour's postmodern theatrical happening receives its New York premiere replete with murders, suicides and rabbits. "Requirements for the performance: Two glasses of water. A copy of this play."
50 minutes

Mon March 7 @ 8pm
Tue March 8 @ 8pm
Mon March 14 @ 8pm (Talkback with the Artists @ 9:30pm)
Tue March 15 @ 8pm

90 minutes all together.


Bootleg Islam
Written & performed by Negin Farsad
Presented by Vaguely Qualified Productions
Bootleg Islam is a one-woman comedy about a California-raised Iranian-American girl gallivanting around the streets of Tehran, Iran. She travels to this Middle-Eastern hotbed for a cousin’s wedding and discovers how ridiculous oppression can be, how delicious the third world has become and how hard it is to keep a chador on.

Wed March 23 @ 7pm (Talkback with the Artist @ 8pm)
Fri March 25 @ 9:30pm

60 minutes


The Hip-Hop Waltz of Eurydice
With Tom Fitzpatrick, Alan Mandell, Joselito Amen Santos, Borracha, Juliana Francis Kelly
Directed by Reza Abdoh
A video of Reza Abdoh’s landmark work with Obie Award-winner Juliana Francis-Kelly. “Abdoh visualized an Orwellian society in the 21st Century where sex is punished by death. He heard a monstrous vice cop scream at a married couple named Orpheus and Eurydice, 'We're gonna bore desire right out of you.’” (Program note from the original production). 90 minutes
Friday, March 18 at 7pm (Talkback with original DAR A LUZ company member, Juliana Francis-Kelly @ 8:30pm)


(original production in Tehran pictured)

Written by Siavash Pakrah & Directed by Gyda Arber
The Fifth Wall
Three slaves, entombed in their Master's crypt, search for faith,
meaning and a way out of their prison. Before their air is gone. And
before The Master arrives. Join us in a world of double and triple
meanings that sheds light on contemporary Iran, where one thing always
stands for another. Written and performed in Tehran last year in the
aftermath of Iran's disputed elections, Ka is translated into English
and performed outside Iran for the first time.

March 9 @ 8pm (Talkback with the Artists @ 9:30pm)
March 11 @ 7pm
March 19 @ 3pm
March 24 @ 9pm
March 26 @ 9pm

90 minutes



Written & performed by Jaleh Stoltz
Philadelphia, PA
Foreigner is a personal exploration of faith, identity, and culture in an increasingly complicated world. Jaleh Stoltz uses dance and theater to reenact her religious upbringing in the her religious upbringing and a solo-journey to the Islamic Republic of Iran to find the roots of her religious convictions.

Thu March 17 @ 7pm
Sat March 19 @ 9pm (Talkback with the Artists @ 10:30pm)
Sun March 20 @ 2pm

90 minutes


Quotations from a Ruined City
With Sabrina Artel, Brenden Doyle, Anita Durst, Tom Fitzpatrick, Mario Gardner, Mel Herst, Peter Jacobs, Tom Pearl, Ken Roht, Tony Torn, Tom Walker and John Yankee
Text by Reza Abdoh and Salar Abdoh, Directed by Reza Abdoh
A video of one of Reza Abdoh’s final productions. 
Quotations From a Ruined City is a sort of apocalyptic follies: an evening of song, dance, poetry, nudity and torture set in a world whose center has clearly long ceased to hold. Created and directed by the gifted young theatrical cult artist Reza Abdoh, the work is a kaleidoscopic catalogue of images of decay and destruction that range through the centuries and around the globe.” The New York Times review from 1994.  90 minutes
Sunday, March 20 @ 4pm (Talkback with original DAR A LUZ company members Tony Torn and Sabrina Artel @ 5:30pm)


Silken Veils
Written & directed by Leila Ghaznavi
Presented by Pantea Productions
Valencia, CA
Nominated for the prestigious Fringe First Award (best new work)
Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2010, Silken Veils is an elegant
hybridization of Rumi poetry, marionettes, shadow work, live
performance, animation and contemporary Iranian history. Creator
Leila Ghaznavi blends these medias to evoke the story of Darya, a
young woman who questions the value of love, while reliving her
childhood and the turbulence and passion of her family during the
Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Iran/Iraq war.

Fri March 11 @ 9pm (Talkback with the Artists @ 10pm)
Sat March 12 @ 4pm
Sun March 13 @ 1pm

45 minutes


Something Something Uber Ales
Written by Assurbanipal Babilla & Directed by Michael Yawney.
Performed by Matthew Glass
Miami, FL
A bizarre and dramatic journey of epic proportions, as our lonely actor recalls the life of a man whose only noticeable feature is that he is Hitler's doppelganger. Listen as he is discovered by two gay pastry chefs and inducted into a Hitler worshipping cult located miles and miles below the F Train in Midtown Manhattan.

Fri March 4 @ 7pm
Sat March 5 @ 7pm
Sat March 12 @ 6pm (Talkback with the Artists @ 7:30pm)
Fri March 25 @ 7pm
Sat March 26 @ 2pm

90 minutes


Three Eternal Days
A working presentation & cultural dialogue
Written by Mohammad Ebrahimian, translated by Dr. Wendy Coyle with Masoud Chamasmani
Directed by Dominic D'Andrea
NYC/San Francisco/Iran (via skype)

University students in war-torn Iran wrestle with Rumi, The Quran and The Book of Revelations as their families struggle to survive. A cultural, historical, religious, mythical tour de force set during the time of the Iraq missile attacks on Iran. The play is steeped in the traditional Ta'ziyah and the devotions of Saint Reza.Translated into English for the first time, this work in progress will focus on creating a meaningful cultural exchange of ideas and art. It will culminate in a presentation that reflects where the artists are in & what they have learned in the process, and will include a dialogue with the audience.

Tue March 22 @ 8pm
Thu March 24 @ 7pm
Sat March 26 @ 6:30pm
(A dialogue with the artists, audience, & community will occur after each performance)

90 minutes

Tickets for this event are $10


Two Stories That End in Suicide
Presented by Piehole
2 Stories That End in Suicide uses video, puppetry, and live actors to tell the story of contemporary youth in Iran, and the limitations of Western media representations. We draw from two seemingly disparate novels (Cesare Pavese’s Among Women Only and Sadegh Hedayet’s The Blind Owl), as well as the censorship laws required by the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the blogging habits of young Iranians. Tying these threads together with our distinctive brand of strangeness and humor, we probe ideas of private and public suffering and examine the repressed and complex conditions in Iranian society.

Thu March 17 @ 9pm
Fri March 18 @ 9:30pm (Talkback with the Artists @ 11pm)
Fri March 25 @ 11pm

90 minutes


White Rabbit, Red Rabbit
Written by Nassim Soleimanpour
Iran & NYC
Playwright Nassim Soleimanpour's postmodern theatrical happening receives its New York premiere replete with murders, suicides and rabbits. "Requirements for the performance: Two glasses of water. A copy of this play."

Sat March 5 @ 9pm (performed in Persian by Soheil Mostajabian)
Sun March 6 @ 5pm (performed in English by Soheil Mostajabian; Talkback with the Artist @ 6pm)

Mon March 7 @ 8pm [with Aviary; A Preview Excerpt & In Media Res] (performer TBA)
Tue March 8 @ 8pm [with Aviary; A Preview Excerpt & In Media Res] (performer TBA)
Mon March 14 @ 8pm [with Aviary; A Preview Excerpt & In Media Res] (performer TBA)
Tue March 15 @ 8pm [with Aviary; A Preview Excerpt & In Media Res] (performer TBA)
Sat March 26 @ 4pm (performer TBA)

50 minutes



Festival Organizers:

Gyda Arber
Ms. Arber, recently returned from a trip to Tehran, is a writer-director best known for creating the multimedia iPod noir, "Suspicious Package," which drew acclaim from a host of publications, including The New York Times ("A distinctly 21st-century form of participatory theater. A singular experience.") and The Village Voice ("Impressive!...Makes for thrills."). Named "Person of the Year 2008" by, she is also the director-creator of the interactive play Q&A: The Perception of Dawn ("quite ingenious" and the writer-director of the short film "Watching" (commissioned by the horror festival Sinister Six). A San Francisco native, she has a degree in musical theater from NYU, and is a graduate of the Maggie Flanigan Studio.

Wendy Coyle
Dr. Coyle lived in Iran for 14 years where she directed the Iran America Society cultural centers in Tehran and Meshhad that included
festivals and performances in theater, film, fine arts. She also and served as an interpreter for the U.S. State Department and for many well-known Iranian artists before the revolution. She has written for various newspapers including Daftar-e-Honor ( Arts Journal), and the Tehran Post which has published articles from her recent trip to Iran. Her memoir "Iridescent Iran" in English and Persian was published this year.

Cynthia Croot
Professor Croot is a director, writer and activist. Her first trip to the Middle East was as a delegate representing U.S. artists in a 2004 exchange between Columbia University and Damascus University, funded by the U.S. State Department and the Center for International Conflict Resolution. Since then she has worked with, met, interviewed and collaborated with a range of Middle Eastern, Arab, and Arab-American artists here in the US, Syria, Jordan and Iran. Because of her international work, she has relationships with some many companies nationally and abroad which are committed to exchange with Iran. She was a guest speaker at the Fajr International Theater festival in Tehran in 2010, and currently teaches at Whitman College in Washington.

Michael Gardner
Mr. Gardner is Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of The Brick and Co-Creator of its many theme festivals (The NY Clown Theater Festival, Fight Fest and The Antidepressant Festival, among others). Recent directorial works include "Assurbanipal Babilla's Assyrian Monkey Fantasy (in two movements)," the English Language premiere of Vaclav Havel’s "Mountain Hotel," Mike Daisey’s "In Prague" and Jason Craig’s "The Baby Jesus Conversation." He is adapter and director of "The Ninja Cherry Orchard," "The Kung Fu Importance of Being Earnest," "Memoirs of My Nervous Illness," "In a Strange Room" (Top Ten Plays, 2004—Time Out NY) and director of the "Brandywine Distillery Fire" at Incubator Arts Project.

Safa Samiezade'-Yazd
Ms. Samiezade'-Yazd is a half-American, half-Iranian writer and performer. She is the writer of a one-woman show called "Cover Girl," which describes her adult and childhood relationship with the hejab. It was recently presented at the Women Playwrights International Conference at the University of Mumbai. Several of her monologues were published on Two other solo shows of hers, "Khomeini and Me" and "Are You My Father," deal with the issue of temporary marriage in Iran. In 2009, she curated an evening of performances at Powerhouse Books to benefit Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Michael Yawney
Professor Yawney is a playwright/director/producer teaching at the University of Miami. He is a regular interpreter of Iranian Dissident, Assubanipal Babilla, having directed and performed in many of Mr. Babilla’s works. He is a former magazine columnist, grantwriter, and textbook editor, dramaturg for dancetheater and playwright (specializing in work drawn from nonfiction sources).

The Iranian Theater Festival is represented by Emily Owens PR.