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  • Mahdi Shahpiri, Director Takes on Sadegh Hedayat: ‘Abji’

    A Story Full of Symbols & Signs

    Iran Theater: Iran classical literature is a timeless source of performing arts, which has been forsaken by many theater directors. Mahdi Shahpiri, an innovative and talented young director, has adapted Iranian writer Sadegh Hedayat’s short story by the same name to stage ‘Abji Khanoum’.

    Mahdi Shahpiri is an actor, director, presenter and puppet performer. He holds an acting degree from Tehran University. He has played in numerous plays since 2003, receiving awards.

    ‘Abji’ is the story of a not-good-looking girl whom no man wants to marry while she has a beautiful sister named Mahrokh who is going to marry soon. The girl commits suicide on the wedding night of Mahrokh. A man rescues Abji from drowning and will marry her later. But the rescuer is not a typical man. The play had been performed once in the Puppet Show Theater Festival.

    It is a piece by Bidel Theater Group. Minoo Maleki, Nasim Taji, Mehrnoush Balameh, Dariush Fayezi and Katayoun Razmhosseini play in ‘The Sis’ at Sayeh Hall of the City Theater Complex.

    Mohammad Bohrani is the art advisor and Mehran Nael the producer. Other crew members are assistant directors: Navid Akbari Mobarakeh and Nina Farshadi, set designers: Mahdi Shahpari and Mehrnoush Balameh, costume designer and puppet maker: Mehrnoush Balameh, assistant producer: Maryam Haydari, set directors: Negin Onsori and Seyyed Amin Kazemzadeh, media and advertisement: Mina Pirouzian, photographer: Saba Qasemi.

    Mahdi Shahpari talks more about ‘The Sis’.


    Can we categorize ‘Abji’ as a micro-theater, puppet and live show?

    ‘Abji’ does not have the characteristics of a micro-performance. It is more a live puppet show. Nowhere in the world a live and a puppet show is separated. The nature of theater is important. In my theater, I have not used a performer as it is typical in the puppetry.

     Is ‘Abji’ an adaptation of a short story by Sadegh Hedayat?

    Yes. It was performed in Puppetry Theater Festival. It is an adaptation of a short story by Sadegh Hedayat. I love the stories with such ambience like One Thousand and One Night, Three Drops of Blood, Astray Dog. Therefore, I was seeking an opportunity to adapt them one of them for stage. Last year, I raised the idea with Farhad Amini to write the play. It was the idea that no man should be seen in the city and men would be seen through the eyes of women, who hold the keys of the city.

    Have you tries to make the audience face interpretations?

    ‘Abji’ is full of signs and symbols when the women take the keys it shows that men are present. But it is a city with no real man.

    Is the half-man half-animal who comes to the city and married the sister is a symbol of masculinity?  

    Yes. His presence changes the life of the sister.

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