Off the Curtain: A Performance of Rostam and Sohrab – Tuesday 20 August, 7pm
Pardeh Khani (reading off the curtain) combines acting, narrating, and intimate storytelling with innovative stage prepping. In the almost interactive Off the Curtain female storyteller Sara Mashayekh provides the audience with an alternative form of presenting an epic story and breaks with Iranian tradition where a male is always the storyteller. The performance shakes up the ready-made story delivered to a passive audience formula for theatrical storytelling and instead engages the audience emotionally while palpably igniting their imagination.
And what a story she is telling! Rostam and Sohrab are the timeless heroes of Iranian myth, known by each and every Iranian – no exaggeration here, while reenactments in the west bring all sorts of complications with translation and mis-represenation, see this French production a website for which says the book is by Ferdowski. Another book names the demon or ;the div’ as ‘the akvan div’ which should be ‘akvan-e div’ – “Akvan the div”. These common slip ups fit with the content of the poem, which deals consistently with war and grief, and of fathers making mistakes – sometimes putting their mistakes right, sometimes forgetting. And despite the elements that are lost in translation the magic, bravery, injustice in the tales put the Shahnameh on par with the Mahabharata, even surpassing the register and length of the stories of King Aurthur. This style of storytelling also provides a perfect antidote to the age of special effects and fast food storylines, where nothing is require of the imagination and all details are graphically depicted.
Pardeh Khani resonantes with early British tradition. The one performer will act certain scenes and portrays several characters, while maintaining an unbroken narrative for listeners. However if they’re a poor narrator, you’ll be stuck for the whole show with none of the relief that an array of other actors can offer in similar situations with plays.
This emphasis of Pardeh Khani bears down on the style of the performance where the point of the piece “is not the final peak of narration and the conclusion to the story, but rather the process of presenting the story through an effort to make the audience active participants in the course of the performance itself”.
The performance at SOAS is suitable for all ages. Tickets: £5 for adults/£3 for under 16. Visit the SOAS Online Store.