Zahhak: The Legend of the Serpent King is a new adaptation from Shahnameh (The Persian Book of Kings) by Persian poet Abul-Qâsem Ferdowsi (AD 940 – 1020). It is inspired by the ancient Persian storytelling style Naghali along with Western physical theater and live jazz music.
Shahnameh, the most celebrated epic poem in Iran, chronicles the first fifty monarchs in Iran’s history; Zahhak, one of the poem’s most popular stories, describes the reign of the eponymous demon-possessed fourth king of Persia. It is written and directed by Vahdat Yeganeh and performed by Iranian actress Donya Pooli-Yeganeh and Turkish pianist Engin Ozsahin, who also contributes original music. Audiences are invited to consider this philosophical, psychological, and political Persian mythology in relation to themselves, to experience the power of storytelling, and to consider the Essential Question framing A.R.T.’s production of Life of Pi: How does telling stories help us cope and survive?
After the January 14 performance, there will be a post-show conversation with Siamak Movahedi, Ph.D., FIPA, entitled The Ghost of Zahhak in the Age of Totalitarianism. Brief post-show conversations with the company will follow all other performances.
About Dialogue of Civilizations
In coordination with Boston Experimental Theatre, Zahhak: the Legend of the Serpent King is presented as part of A.R.T.’s Dialogue of Civilizations programming, which creates environments for international artists and thinkers to explore the dynamics of the interplay between their cultures. The Dialogue of Civilizations initiative aims to spark global understanding and empathy to foster a future of symbiotic cultural development and exchange. With this play, artists from different cultures celebrate overlooked Persian literature in America to embody and present the work with the sensibilities, experiences, and ideas of different civilizations.
Boston Experimental Theatre Company (BETC) was developed in summer 2008 to get back to basics and bring theater to life through the process. Inspired by Antonin Artaud and his concept of Theater of Cruelty and Jerzy Grotowski and his concept of Poor Theater, BETC rehearsals always begin in an empty space with the director, actors, and designers engaging in exercises that explore their thoughts and feelings and allow relationships to develop; shows grows organically from this intimate and intense atmosphere. BETC believes the theater must be a space where actors and spectators can connect meaningfully to their dreams and emotions at the deepest level. BETC productions aim to foster meaningful communication between the actors and the audience to inspire a collective exploration of feelings held captive in the body and the unconscious.