A Berlin threatre's own Iran drama

( dpa ) - The Berlin Theater ensemble was supposed to contribute to cultural ties between Iran and Germany by performing Bertolt Brecht's "Mother Courage" in the annual arts festival in Tehran.

However, the project faced unprecedented problems ranging from sniffer dogs to confiscated blank cartridge rifles and pistols and eventually the need to change one part of the famous anti-war drama.

"I saw things I had never seen before (in my career)," said Claus Peymann, director of the Berlin Theater ensemble about the play.

Peymann said that he faced harsh criticism from Iranian dissidents back home in Germany for his decision to play to Iran.

"But I came here not for playing for the Iranian president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) or the government but for Iranian theatre fans, just as I do not play in Berlin for German Chancellor (Angela) Merkel or Berlin mayor (Klaus) Wowereit," the director said.

"Art speaks another language and can open new little windows," he added.

Peymann however almost regretted his decision after he faced in Tehran "exaggerated harsh controls," such as blackening the pictures of women in the theatre brochure, checking the text and arguing over the dress code of the actresses.

In Iran all women, including foreigners, have to wear a headscarf and gown to hide hair and body contour and the actresses of the Berlin ensemble were no exception.

According to Peymann, the local organizers, affiliated with the Iranian Culture Ministry, even "forcefully" prohibited German press and media from interviewing the actresses about their obligation to hide their hair.

"It was like a new Middle Ages. I felt like a fool," Peymann said.

The ensemble also had logistic problems which the director termed as "funny but still serious enough to endanger the first night performance (Tuesday) until the last minute."

The venue of the play was the Vahdat Hall in Tehran where also the equipment of the ensemble was stored, including two blank cartridge rifles and one pistol which were a must for the play.

During the weekend however, Ahmadinejad had to go to the same hall for awarding Iranian writers. Naturally the whole venue was thoroughly checked with newly-purchased sniffer dogs which eventually found the theatre weapons in the ensemble's box of requisites.

The weapons were immediately confiscated by the presidential security officers but returned after it was assured that they solely belonged to the theatre group and were not real weapons.

"But when we got back the weapons, the one pistol no longer worked," Peymann said.

As the daughter of Mother Courage, the deaf Katrin, should be killed in the play by a pistol, the rather important scene in the drama had for the first time be changed and Katrin was eventually killed by a rifle and not with a pistol.

Peymann said that during his first performance in Tehran in 2002 - William Shakespeare's "Richard II" - the situation in Iran had drastically deteriorated and he even toyed with the idea of returning to Berlin.

The Iranian side has not yet officially reacted to the harsh criticism by the German director but one Cultural Ministry official regretted the incident. But at the same time he accused the Germans with "overreacting."

"We are indeed very sorry about the inconvenience caused, but our German friends should know that they cannot expect in Iran the same conditions as in Germany and should therefore not overreact," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"If the aim was cultural exchange between two nations, then there should not be such a fuss over a pistol," he added.

The play itself was a great success and the Berlin ensemble, especially Peymann and leading actress Carmen-Maja Antoni, received standing ovations by the audience in the sold-out Vahdat Hall.

"Brecht and Peymann live in Tehran, that was indeed a highlight for all of us", Iranian theatre director Mohsen Hosseini said after the performance.

"That was really cool. The problem is only that after such a performance, we need to adapt ourselves again to the level of our own local theater," theater student Hossein said.

"This of course makes us proud," Peymann said, referring to the enthusiastic reaction by the audience.

Brecht is one of the most popular German writers in Iran and almost all of his dramas are translated into Farsi. Peymann is respected in Iranian theatre and academic circles as one of the greatest theater directors.

Performances by German or European artists in Iran are supposed to build a cultural bridge to the Islamic state.

During the 1997-2005 presidency of reformist Mohammad Khatami, such initiatives strengthened dialogue among civilizations and contact between Muslims and non-Muslims.

This aim was also supposed to be continued under the ultra- conservative Ahmadinejad whose controversial nuclear policies and anti-Israeli rhetoric since his presidency in August 2005 has caused world-wide controversy.

But theater fans in Iran do not care about such political considerations and whether such cultural bridges could eventually be built or not.

"We cannot care less about such issues. All we want is to see good theater and are just glad to have an excellent ensemble playing Brecht in Iran after almost nine years," said actress Layli Mashayekhi.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Sudan security forces fire tear gas on protesters
Sudan security forces fire tear gas on protesters
Serbian deputy PM to visit Azerbaijan
Serbian deputy PM to visit Azerbaijan
EU regulator set to rule on Pfizer COVID pill by end-Jan, ahead of Merck
EU regulator set to rule on Pfizer COVID pill by end-Jan, ahead of Merck
Loading Bars
Sudan security forces fire tear gas on protesters
Launch of Baku-Shusha bus route of particular importance for Shusha city - Special Representative of Azerbaijani President
Azerbaijan talks applications received by SMB Development Agency on creating business in liberated lands
Uzbekistan working to establish power supply in Tashkent region
Azerbaijan discloses annual turnover growth of E-PUL payment system for 2021
Price indexes of financial, construction sectors at Uzbek stock exchange fall
Toyota Caucasus becomes member of Business Association of Georgia
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 757 more COVID-19 cases, 302 recoveries
Turkmen livestock complex in Akhal region names volume of production
Uzbek company reveals volume of exports to French Bonduelle
Bank of Georgia supports new tower construction in Tbilisi
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to rise
Azerbaijan sees growth in local banks' total assets in 2021
Azerbaijan unveils number of businesses affected during second Karabakh war (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan's monetary base increases in 2021
Iran shares value of shrimp exports
Azerbaijan’s Small and Medium Business Development Agency discloses number of start-up certificates issued in 2021
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev sends congratulatory letter to chairperson of Organization of War, Labor and Armed Forces Veterans
Central Bank of Iran shares data on country’s foreign debts
Iran sees increase in liquidity
Azerbaijani Small & Medium Business Dev't Agency talks about its activities in 2021
Serbian deputy PM to visit Azerbaijan
EU regulator set to rule on Pfizer COVID pill by end-Jan, ahead of Merck
Kazakhstan records decrease in annual inflation in December 2021
Low-carbon transition pressures to accelerate in 2022
Iran unveils volume of electricity generated by Esfahan TPP
Capital of Iran’s Bank Mellat soars
Uzbekistan sees increase in newly created enterprises
IOM talks about areas of cooperation with Turkmenistan in 2022
Luxembourg’s SES S.A. continues steps within Kazakhstan’s state program foe economy dev't
Croatia to send three delegations to Azerbaijan
Luxembourg’s SES S.A. to launch satellites to boost internet speed in Kazakhstan
Labour migration from Turkey to Germany slightly increased in 2021
Iran shares data on production capacity of Petrochemical Special Economic Zone
Kazakhstan maintains positive trend in local consumer demand
Kazakhstan’s Samruk-Kazyna Fund preliminarily approves new procurement procedure
Georgia sees growth in residential property price index
Brazil's Embraer wins order for 20 aircraft from U.S. lessor Azorra
Judicial investigation of two Armenian citizens accused of terrorism completed in Azerbaijan
Russia records another 65,109 coronavirus cases
Azerbaijan's BTB Bank announces net profit for 2021
Georgia's hotels to see increase in demand – forecast
People wanted for grave crimes extradited to Azerbaijan - Prosecutor General
India’s imports from China soar to almost $100 bn, led by smartphones, machinery
Uzbekistan reveals structure of foreign trade turnover
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for January 24
Boeing invests $450 mln in flying taxi developer Wisk
Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation resuming local competitions
German group of companies to construct plant in Uzbekistan
Turkmenistan's Akhal Electric Power Station boosts output rate
Azerbaijani police calls on citizens coming to Shusha to observe security rules
Georgia to provide financial support to senior citizens - PM
India's Infosys confident about more offshoring opportunities
Azerbaijani Defence Minister meets with Finland's MFA delegation (PHOTO)
Turkmen multifilament yarn manufacturer exports to foreign markets
National Bank of Kazakhstan increases base rate
JPMorgan merges EU operations into single German business
Turkmen enterprise reveals output of glass sheets
Turkmenistan's State Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs opens tender for audit
TAP’s technical forward capacity by Jan.30
Azerbaijan - Georgia's top fuel, lubricant supplier in 2021
NEQSOL Holding delivered Strategic HR Business Partner Program for HR professionals
Physical gas flows, nominations at TAP’s interconnections
Progress on iron foundry construction project in Kazakhstan unveiled
Weekly review of Azerbaijani oil market
Georgia’s hazelnuts export value, volume grow
Iran seeks to increase economic ties with Iraq
Iran to put taxes on petrochemical exports revenues
SOCAR Turkey talks on demand for STAR Refinery products
Kazakhstan unveils trade data with its top partners in Americas
First passenger bus from Baku arrives in Azerbaijan’s liberated Shusha (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Electricity generation booming at Iran’s biggest thermal power plant
Azerbaijan to hold auction to place Unibank’s bonds on Baku Stock Exchange
Azerbaijani AFB Bank discloses net profit for 2021
Turkmengaz to purchase material and technical resources via tender
Uzbekistan to support new projects of food producers
Anil Agarwal to set up $10 bn fund to hunt for govt assets
Outbreak alert: members of Georgia's government test positive for COVID-19
Azerbaijan approves agreement on customs co-op with Saudi Arabia
Iran records surge in number of flights via Shahid Beheshti Airport
Visa regime between Azerbaijan and Qatar cancelled
Iran's handmade carpet production declines
Footage of Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development arriving in Fuzuli International Airport published (PHOTO)
Uzbekistan to build new power units at its Angren TPP
Georgia’s Batumi City Hall talks loan interest to be paid out to EBRD, KfW
Turkmen Commodity and Raw Materials Exchange reveals trades for Jan. 17 through 22
Iran, Uzbekistan may be implementing eTIR system in pilot mode
Ukraine discloses number of incoming Azerbaijani tourists in 2021
Iran shares data on power generation of Shahid Rajaee TPP
First regular passenger bus from Baku arrives in liberated Aghdam (PHOTO)
Overall index of Tehran Stock Exchange drops
Kazakhstan increases fuel oil production in 10M2021
Uzbekistan to co-op with French Textile Industry Union in light industry
Iran discloses data on tourists visiting country
Azerbaijan to display historical monuments damaged by Armenia in Aghdam (PHOTO)
Bulgarian energy minister to visit Azerbaijan
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose honoured by Indian Embassy In Germany; exhibition inaugurated
Iran, Belgium review co-op opportunities
Uzbekistan adopts new dev't program for 2022-2024
All news