Blind Owl

What an exemplary experience! I really was transported into a dream reality” Michael Alexander Cook (Read more)

Boston Experimental Theatre’s approach to The Blind Owl resulted in a performance that did not simplify Hedayat’s dark and penetrating work but rather translated its profundity and energy to the stage.” Dr. Robert Lublin (Read more)

based on the novel by Sadegh Hedayat

adapted and directed by Vahdat Yeganeh

cast: Jared Wright-Deniz Khateri-Rick Chason

music composed by Bahar Royaee

music performed by

Pouya Shabanpour(Daf)-Eden Rayz(Cello)- Layth Sidiq(Kamancheh)-Maryam Vaziri(Vocal)-Hamed Tabkhi (Setar)- Bahar Royaee (Piano)

art director: Jared Wright

dramaturge to the director: Dr. Robert Lublin

produced by Vahdat Yeganeh

sponsored by Boston University, Dr. Sunil Sharma, Dr. Sassan Tabatabai

October 2015-Boston University

About Blind Owl:

The Blind Owl stands as one of the most acclaimed and controversial works of 20th century Persian literature. First published in 1937 under the oppressive reign of Reza Shah, the Iranian government banned the book and accused it of causing readers to commit suicide. A surrealist portrait of an isolated artist’s tormented, sexually frustrated, Opium – induced mind, the novel confronts the lowest reaches of human depression and lures us into a raw, ethereal world of psychological despair. Academic and literary communities have held up the work as a masterpiece since its publication, but few English-speaking readers are aware of the Blind Owl, largely because it is extremely difficult to translate its Farsi into English and no satisfactory English translation yet exists.

The novel’s author, Sadegh Hedayat, was born in Iran in 1903 to an aristocratic family. At 23 he left Iran to study in Europe. There he developed a lifelong love for Western literature, becoming deeply influenced by Rainer Maria Rilke, Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka, Anton Chekhov and Guy de Maupassant. Hedayat would dedicate the rest of his life to studying and exploring the interplay between Western literature and Iranian history and folklore, and contemporary critics credit him more than anyone else with legitimizing modern Persian literature in the eyes of the international community.

The style and subject matter of The Blind Owl make it ideal for an adaptation with the Boston Experimental Theatre (BET). Director Vahdat Yeganeh leads the company through a highly improvisational rehearsal process informed by the antirealistic dramatic philosophy of Antonin Artaud and the organic, minimalist directorial techniques of Jerzy Grotowski. With intensely physical body work, composition of original music, and an earnest exploration of the novel’s impact on our collective psyche, we strive to transform the solitary despair of the novel into a communal celebration of a living experience.

On a political level, the company continues our past efforts in striving to emulate Dariush Shayegan’s philosophy of “Dialogue Among Civilizations”, a set of ideals that encourage creating an environment for Iranian and American artists and thinkers to explore dynamics of interplay between our cultures. This artistic and intellectual work serves as an attempt to spark global understanding and empathy and to foster a future of symbiotic cultural development and exchange. Hedayat’s work fits beautifully with Shayegan’s philosophy, Hedayat having a focus on converging Iranian and Western artistry. For our Blind Owl, we will explore difficulties in preexisting translations of Hedayat and blend these preexisting texts with our own new translation. As a company of Iranian and American artists with Islamic, Jewish, and Christian backgrounds, we will converge our own experiences and perspectives on the novel and the state of the contemporary world while we transform the language and medium of the text for a new audience, creating a theatrical experience full of love for the classic novel but with its own identity and spirit.

Cheers,

Rick Chason

Leran more about B.E.T. by Vahdat Yeganeh, the artistic director

Reviews

An Inspiration by Antonin Artaud

Jerzy Grotowski and ‘Poor Theatre’ (video)

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