Reviews

 

“I walked away from FISH TREES with exactly the feeling you should always have after experiencing a piece of theater (but so seldom do!): completely energized and inspired. Boston is fortunate to have a small, daring company like BET which takes big risks, challenges the mind and sparks the imagination. FISH TREES, in particular, also posed large, provocative questions like what it means to be experiencing our lives today. In attempting to answer (or at least address) those questions, the production effectively melded many forms—- blending an intense physical approach, imaginative use of technology and wonderfully evocative imagery that has stayed with me many weeks after the performance. It also featured one of the truly epic performances I have seen from a stage actor in a long time. Jared Wright’s body, voice and soul were fully engaged in an astonishing, no-hold-barred act of storytelling that truly deserves the label “tour-de-force”.

I look forward to BET’s next adventure eagerly, knowing that it will be full of surprises and creativity—- and that it will take me to theatrical places I have never been to before. I can’t wait!”

Remo Airaldi, Lecturer on Theater, Dance, and Media (Harvard University)


“Every person must choose how much truth he can stand”1

How much pain I can stand was the question when I was watching the last work of BETC, “The Blind Owl”.  The visual translation of existential pain, terror of death and loneliness, the stimulation of those dark wholes that no one wants to talk about and Vahdat decided to do. He is a director who challenges you, provokes you and leaves you in wonder at the end. He knows how to breaks through audience’s defenses while they are trapped in their chair (I have seen people left his plays in the heart of it). Getting into audience’s defenses that keep anxiety down and showing them what they do not want to see makes his works different and his adoption from “the Blind Owl” was the best example of that.  You cannot look for a story line or a closure at end, you are there to feel, Feeling the uncomfortable. No certainty, no clearance and that’s were anxiety comes up and you are force to face it.  His interpretation of the book and transforming that to actions, lights, sounds, moves and music made Sadeq Hedayat’s pain connected to audience’s pain. Someone in front of me is reminding me, my vulnerable side.

Yalom says in his existential psychoanalytic perspective that all human being have four major anxieties: “the inevitability of death for each of us and for those we love; the freedom to make our lives as we will; our ultimate aloneness; and, finally, the absence of any obvious meaning or sense to life.”2 these major anxieties apply on his theater and that is why it is beyond culture, language or structure and it talks to all audiences. It is about that sort of pain that does not have any border. Lastly, when we share it, when we watch our nightmare with each other, we become less anxious and that is how we survive through art.

Mahrou Zhaf, PHD in Cultural Psychoanalysis

1. Irvin.D.Yalom when Nietzsche wept

2. Irvin D. Yalom, Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy

———————————————————————————————————————————-

What an exemplary experience! I really was transported into a dream reality. I let my intellect go and freely associated with the physical and vocal and emotional figures of the actors as well as the sound and images. Of course, sex and death resonated throughout, as well as a tragic sense of entrapment, of being bound or enshrouded. I was glad to let go of interpretation and freely interact. It was quite liberating. And when it was over, despite the absence of narrative clarity, I genuinely felt closure and completion, that the work had come to its fullness.
 
I appreciated Jared’s earnest and youthful characterization as well as his flashes of humor and sudden and somewhat jolting reversions to a sense of realism. Deniz was a vision throughout, continually transforming, now the voice of the subconscious, now the demi-goddess, now the corpse, now the newborn. Rick’s old man, embittered, entrapped in his brokenness, gleefully chortling, was alternately creepy and heartbreaking.
 
There was also at times a great sense of size, of dream-like narrative-become-myth: the dead girl and her sexualized dismemberment, the twin brothers and the cobra test.
 
I did spend a great deal of time poring over the images afterwards. Not knowing the context in Iranian culture, I certainly doubt that I plumbed the depths. But the work had great resonance despite all that. I certainly sensed a narrative at the heart about the wife and her murder, and perhaps that the rest sprung from it, but I was also content to wonder, as does the protagonist: is anything real?
Alexander Cook 
——————————————————————————————————————————–
 
 

Sadegh Hedayat’s The Blind Owl is widely revered as the most famous Persian novel in Iran and the West, but it is a challenging work. The novel is surrealistic in its dreamlike break from realism and rarely gives its reader absolute certainty about what is real and what is not. Rendering such a work into drama is a daunting proposition. Boston Experimental Theatre Company embraced the book’s complexity and employed modern theatrical techniques to create a compelling performance that deeply engaged a diverse audience.

Iranian director Vahdat Yeganeh’s primary method of rendering the novel into drama was to have three actors serve two functions each. First, and most importantly, the three together served to constitute the consciousness of the narrator. In Hedayat’s novel, the narrator’s identity shifts through the course of the work. Yeganeh’s decision to have three people play the single role brought Hedayat’s complex narrative technique to life onstage. Second, the actors played the other characters with whom the narrator engages in the work. Critically important to the success of this production was the focus, power, and dedication of his actors. Yeganeh’s theatre is not confined to realism, but his production demonstrates internal cohesiveness because of the intensive work he does with his actors to develop an alternative vocabulary of the stage. This demands a lot from actors, and this production of The Blind Owl proves how effectively anti-realistic theatre can speak to audiences today.

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. Yeganeh’s production was immediate and electrifying, and I hope it will be revived so that other audiences can engage with the work’s enduring power through this exciting performance.

Dr. Robert Lublin, UMASS BOSTON

——————————————————————————————————————————-

 “Under the direction of Vahdat Yeganeh, the performers flow with each other’s energies and intuitions, collaborating on a semi-improvisational, ever-hypnotic performance. Despite its improvisational quality, every step, every grace or twist of a limb, every utterance of sound rings with specificity and purpose. For all the non-literalism of the piece, I follow the story exactly, since every motion emerges organically from the performers and ideally suits the emotion of its moment.” Read More…

Reviewed by ‘My Entertainment’

————————————————————————————————————————————————

” If I seem a little out of breath, don’t worry; experimental theater does that to me. “Creatures,” staged by Boston Experimental Theatre (B.E.T.) at Pezhman Tavori’s recently opened Touch Art Gallery, worked its audience. Yours truly was obliged often to turn his neck and then his whole person to see actors who didn’t feel at all stage-bound, or even bound to a floor.” (read more…)

Reviewed by James Foritano, ART SCOPE 

—————————————————————————————————————————

 

‘The Spurt of Blood’ is a fantastic production. Edgy, provocative, dreamlike, and thought provoking. This is theater that engages the audience and challenges them at the same time. It’s also something you can see more than once and get something different from each experience. Phil Mantis’s music perfectly complements the mood, Philippe Lejeune’s glass/mirror/visuals creations are perfectly integrated into the whole experience, and Vahdat gets his cast to totally immerse themselves in their roles.”

Audience Member

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Chalk, a horizontal bar for acrobatics, yards and yards of gauzy fabrics, masks, an array of musical instruments, and five fearless actors are the main components of Boston Experimental Theatre Company’s (BETC) production of “The Misunderstanding” by Algerian-born existentialist Albert Camus…(read more)

Reviewed by Lynn Heinemann, Theatre Mirror

———————————————————————————————————————————————

“This (The Misunderstanding) was an extraordinary night of theatre. Camus’s play is so dark, so full of deep dwelling into profound ideas. The art design was alluring. It was stunning to watch the actors throw so much into their roles. One of the best plays I’ve seen this year.”

Audience Member

———————————————————————————————————————————————

Is it theater? I guess it is, but I don’t feel comfortable describing it as that. It’s art. It’s therapy. It’s history. BETC  puts on more than productions, they put on classes. When I saw “There Is Another Court,” I was left not only with the feeling of having just witnessed great theater, but having been taught- about the people, the events, and above all, about myself. There were times when I felt as though Hannah Cranton (who played JonBenet Ramsey) was looking only at me. Like she knew that I was the person in the audience to be directing her feelings toward. It shook me up in a way that I’ve neglected to allow happen before. To see a BETC production is brave and it is necessary. You will question things you’ve known to be true. Vahdat Yeganeh knows how to make people uncomfortable in a way that they will be thankful for later. I know I was.

Mollie Grewe, Audience Member

———————————————————————————————————————————————

“BETC doesn’t want you to be comfortable. I have been to every production and I know their game by now. They want to light a spark in you, and once it’s lit, throw some gasoline on it. I don’t even try to describe to friends what a BETC show is like anymore because everyone gets something different out of it. I just tell them to come, and the look on their face walking out says it all. BETC is pushing an edge, and it’s a thrilling and satisfying ride. Go”

Josh Vajcovec, Audience Member

———————————————————————————————————————————————

“Excellent work! The productions I saw were highly inventive, very imaginatively directed, committed and dedicated productions. Vahdat’s work is experimental and theatrical in the good sense of the words; it’s innovative without being pretentious. It held my interest throughout the evening. I highly recommend his efforts.”

Daniel Gidron, Director

———————————————————————————————————————————————

Vahdat Yeganeh’s production of “There Is Another Court” is by far the most emotionally intense show I’ve seen performed on “stage”.  From  the dark psychedelic stage design to the frighteningly real performances he was able to elicit from his actors, Vahdat created a theater experience both deep and disturbing. To be honest, after leaving the theater I didn’t want to have sex for several days.  That takes quite a lot.

Ben Howe, Audience Member


The BETC’s latest production (There Is Another Court) really represented a step forward in my view.  The dramatic elements – the acting, subject, script and pace – were excellent as usual.  However, in this production these elements were combined with spot-on lighting, music and stage settings, all of which combined to result in a powerfully complete work.  I also enjoyed the way modern dramatic elements were blended with the traditional.  Vadat’s work continues to progress, and I’m looking forward to whatever is next.

John Wiberg, Audience Member

———————————————————————————————————————————————

 

“As we left the theatre, a falling mist had hung every bare twig with a dewdrop that twinkled in the streetlights. By dawn they will all have frozen into crystal diamonds. The glass door before we waited for a bus superimposed a reflection of those trees on the composition of a grey-carpeted staircase. Great theater tends to pry open the eyes as well as the mind, making everything look — and feel — different. Was the little over an hour of “Crying Deer” theater? or dance? a movement-piece?”

Excerpt from a Review by Larry Stark. For a full review click here.


BETC’s production of “There Is Another Court” beamed me back to my first visit to what I thought was a women’s clothing store called the Filly Filly in Grundy Virginia. That slow creepiness up my spine at the section of “6 months and under pageant ware” and makeup for toddlers gripped me again at the start of this play- and kept me. My reaction in that store was to laugh and mock- to raised eyebrows of locals. I was forced again to try to find the line between what innocently appears as someone else’s normal vs. what could arguably be a human right abuse (sexualizing children). Bravo for raising consciousness.

Kris Butler, Audience Member

———————————————————————————————————————————————

“It was not until recently that I was truly introduced to live theater. Until I married a theater buff, I was pretty much ignorant of what the theater had to offer. Slowly though, I began to get exposed to various productions, both dramatic and musical, and I became increasingly interested in seeing more. It was not long after this that I met Vahdat Yeganeh, an aspiring actor/writer/director recently in the U.S. from Iran. I was fortunate enough to witness the growth of Mr. Yeganeh from director of children’s theater productions to what can only be described as the most interesting theatrical mind I’ve encountered in my short experience with the theater. His two latest productions, “Crying Deer” and “Play  Strindberg”, have managed to completely warp my sense of what a creative artist is capable of doing to his audience. No shit. Never in my life have I ever expected to watch two puppets make love just a few feet from me, nor have I ever expected to literally feel a room fill with raw emotion. Now though, I can say I have done both. I will enthusiastically continue to support Mr. Yeganeh in all his future projects. If not for the shear enjoyment of seeing quality, local theater, then for the opportunity to have me mind blown over and over.”

Chris Synnott, Audience Member


“Crying Deer is a show that stays with you. The show ends, the actors bow, and you will sit there: processing, feeling, thinking. The hours and days will go by, and suddenly you will remember a particular scene, or expression, or emotion. That is, I imagine, precisely what the director envisioned. A drama that captures the audience, not just in the theater, but in their lives. A show that speaks to each in his own way, that is open to interpretation. I can’t stop thinking about what I saw, and felt, on that stage. It keeps coming back to me, and it compels me to see it again. Crying Deer is an ambiguous, emotional, heartfelt production. Its uniqueness cannot be adequately expressed in words, and thus must be experienced firsthand.”

Carlin Weaver, Audience Member


“Crying Deer” was a unique and thought provoking theater event for me — at times perplexing, even confusing, but once captured by it’s spell, a completely absorbing and uplifting experience.

Chris Lucas, Audience Member


“I greatly enjoyed Vahdat’s production of Crying Deer.  Despite the experimental nature of the production I found it accessible, and for me the poignancy and relevance shone through.  I am anxious to see what Vahdat’s next project will bring.”

John Wiberg, Audience Member


“In January my wife and I attended “Crying Deer,” created by Vahdat Yeganeh.  Neither my wife nor I regularly attend theatrical events, and wouldn’t have given “Crying Deer” a second thought except we know Vahdat and a couple of the actors, and they were justifiably enthusiastic about the show.  “Crying Deer” existed in a communication space, using sound, light, movement, expression, and gesture, with the normally dominant element of speech removed.  Still, communication occurred and was often intense.  The play encouraged, and maybe even demanded that I enhance my own ability to communicate without speech in order to participate in what was happening around me.  As a result of that experience my wife and I expect to attend any creation/production by Mr. Yeganeh and look forward to the next opportunity.”

Leo Keightley, Audience Member