Ta’ziyeh influenced Theatre

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The book Ta’ziyeh-influenced Theatre analyses some theatre productions based on eclectic theatre to investigate whether Ta’ziyeh is only a traditional, symbolic and unrealistic form of theatre, incomparable to other theatrical styles, or it needs to be focused with evaluation of traditional ceremonies.

Ta’ziyeh-influenced Theatre
Ta’ziyeh-influenced Theatre.jpg
AuthorFarideh Alizadeh, Mohd Nasir Hashim
PublisherCreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

About the authors[edit | edit source]

  • Farideh Alizadeh received her BA (undergraduate) degree in 'Set Design' in 1988 and her MA in 'Theory of Art' in 2005 at the Faculty of Art & Architecture, Islamic Azad University of Tehran (IAUCTB). She worked as a 'scene and costume designer' between 1997and 2006 in Tehran, Iran. In addition, she has been lecturer from 2005 to 2011 at the Faculty of Art & Architecture, (IAUCTB). She then graduated with her Ph.D degree in the field of 'Drama' from the Cultural Centre, University of Malaya (UM) in Malaysia in 2015. She worked for two years (2012-2014) as a candidate at the Bright Sparks of the University of Malaya. Since 2014, she is Research Assistant working with Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohd Nasir Hashim at the UM. Her major interests, modern theatre, include literatures, mixed modern and traditional studies (eclectic theatre) and Cultural Studies. As a creative writing, she published Eclecticism in Iranian Dramatic Art (1981-2001) in 2010 and Ta'ziyeh-influenced Theatre in 2015 as drama and academic books, and articles, too.
  • Associate Professor Dr. Mohd Nasir Hashim: Self-taught in his early years, he unashamedly pestered trained musicians that he came in contact with. Today, Mohd Nasir Hashim specializes in Musicology, Music Composition, Music Technology, and Orchestration. At present, he is the principle investigator of several research projects which encompasses Malay Traditional Music and the "music" of Malay literature as found in the syair, gurindam and children folk songs. At the University of Southampton, UK (MMus in music composition, MPhil in music technology and PhD in Musicology) in 1995-2001 he had opportunity to learn and work with world renowned musicians and composers. He toured with Dave Brubeck, the accomplished jazz composer and his Big Band orchestra in UK and USA (1995). He also studied under the tutelage of Andrew Llyod Webber in writing scores for musical broadways. Nasir introduced Malay traditional songs and compositions of P.Ramlee in the form of arrangement for Western symphony orchestra, to the English audiences. He has been the force behind the UM Symphony Orchestra: conducting, composing, arranging, in addition to producing over 180 orchestral scores.

About the book[edit | edit source]

This book published in CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (December 28, 2015), has 84 pages and best sellers rank of 8,263,545 in Books.

The objective of this book is to reflect on the elements of Ta’ziyeh and modern theatre, with regards to their differences as well as the position of actors and audiences towards each other based on some classifications and selected performances. Terms such as soliloquy, prologue, epilogue, climax, plot, character, diction, above all play and actor are utilized for analyzing and describing of Ta’ziyeh.

Abstract of chapters[edit | edit source]

Chapter One. Evolution of Ta’ziyeh[edit | edit source]

In this chapter the writers give information about background of Ta’ziyeh and its historical and religious structure:

Ta’ziyeh appeared initially in Iran as part of the observance of Ashura for the commemoration of Imam Hussein and his family during the month of Muharram. This event is part of the annual cycle of religious observance in Iran. Ta’ziyeh is also performed in several other countries, such as India, “Iraq”, Indonesia and Malaysia. However, only in Iran and India has the tradition developed into a formal ritual ceremony. It is classified in the group of behaviors in which historical and religious episodes have been grown in the folk lore along with belief and myth and appeared as ritual-religious play. It contains valuable parts of Iranian myths and stories. The episodes of each Ta’ziyeh specifically mix myth and story. In this way, Iranians justify history and give eternal and spiritual concepts and meaning to the life and calamities of their historical heroes.

Ta’ziyeh is made on the confrontation and conflict between ‘good’ (Hussein, Zainab, Rabab or Laila) and ‘evil’ (Shemr and Ibn Sad). This fight between good and evil is not abstract.

The performers do not play roles in Ta’ziyeh but try to impersonate the role olya (approving actor) and ashghya (disapproving actor). Interestingly, all actors in Ta'ziyeh are men and this type of Ta'ziyeh is performed in public. Another shape of Ta'ziyeh existed that is known as ‘feminine Ta'ziyeh’ whereby all the actors were women and it was only performed at women's gatherings.

One of the important characteristics of Ta’ziyeh is that it is narrated in a language and expression which is understood by everyone to some extent depending on their wisdom and knowledge.

Chapter Two. Method of Performing Ta’ziyeh[edit | edit source]

In this chapter the writers try to examine the Ta’ziyeh and its performing elements based on Brecht Theatre and V-Effect.

The basis of Brecht or Epic theatre is the avoidance of the actor identifying with the characters. “Epic or Brechtian theatre does not necessarily have the connotation of a heroic scale, but simply the idea of a loosely linked series of events. In Brecht theatre, for the purpose of separation of the playwright and the audience, the playwright can impose his idea onto the audience.  

In the other hand, the objective of Ta’ziyeh is not only to strengthen moral and religious ideological order in the audience, but also to provoke an internal purifying reaction (cathartic experience for the spectators) like laughing, crying, indignation and excitement. The story has been told to all participants and audiences before. Making the audience to recall the story, Ta’ziyeh refers to the concepts beyond the story, and in the process of performance, puts them before the audiences’ eyes. But in Western theatre principles, this is not recommended and is disfavored.

Ta’ziyeh is based on content, does not look for realism. All the elements of the scene are represented in a symbolic form. It seeks to describe the attributes of the prophets, the superhuman and imams.

Ta’ziyeh of Hussein (Seyed Al Shohada) performed during the first ten days of Muharram; on the day of the Ashura which Imam Hussein is martyred, the angels appear to help him but he ignores and chooses martyrized, thus, he flies far off to save other individuals.

Chapter Three: Replacement[edit | edit source]

It is not possible innovation in Ta’ziyeh. If Ta’ziyeh changing content and form it would not carry out the name of ‘Ta’ziyeh’. Hashem Fayaz

When modern styles of western theatre made their way to Iran, Ta’ziyeh lost its traditional appeal. Places where Ta’ziyeh had been performed earlier changed into buildings, passages and place for modern life. The Iranian community today is different from the traditional community and that of the Qajar period. The system of thinking and behavior of the community has been transformed; social, economic and cultural connections and tastes, and artistic talents have changed. Today Iranian people are looking for a drama which represents their religious history and beliefs in a very modern and artistic manner, with a new language and narration which better match the world. So, Ta’ziyeh, the ancient Iranian religious tragedy, would not be able to maintain its status in terms of its position and place in the Iranian community due to social, economic and cultural changes in recent decades.

Considering the demands of society today, we cannot remain in the traditional and religious ways and preserve the ritual drama in its old form. However, if we change Ta’ziyeh’s semantic form and appearance and coordinate it with the social, cultural and religious system of society today and modern mental characteristics, it may be possible to protect and keep its values and create works of art which conform to demands expressed by the community, of course with new name which could be ‘Ta’ziyeh-influenced theatre’. Eclecticism as a style of theatre and one way to protect Ta’ziyeh is to utilize form and content of Ta’ziyeh through theatre productions.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

In order to employ and use the conventions and attributes of Ta’ziyeh in Iran’s modern-day theatre, the structural form of Ta’ziyeh must be maintained. In fact, in performing Ta’ziyeh, reaching salvation and absolving of sins is important for Muslims, but in Ta’ziyeh-influenced theatres, Ta’ziyeh is the model for theatrical motivation to reach a new form of theatre. In this case, salvation and becoming free of sins have no basis.

In fact, the traditional Iranian Ta’ziyeh has laid the conceptual foundation for the playwright and directors of Ta’ziyeh-influenced Theatre. The contemporary audiences know that they are watching a modern play, not a mere Ta'ziyeh. They sympathy and empathy with characters, ponder, evaluate the performance and ultimately enjoy it.

Source[edit | edit source]