Nazanin Sahamizaeh is a theatre activist from Iran and director of the play “Manus”, staged by Iranian theatre group Verbatim on October 23 at the International Theatre Festival in Chittagong. The festival was organised by Nandimukh at the Chittagong Shilpakala Academy auditorium. The play showcased the global crisis induced by powerful nations over immigrants and refugees, and some national practices from Iran's perspective.
The Daily Star had an opportunity to interview the Nazanin after the show. Excerpts:
Which province in Iran is your team from?
Nazanin: We are from Tehran.
What degree of freedom does theatre have in Iran?
Nazanin: Theatre, in theory, cannot be confined by borders. It can transcend borders and cannot be limited at all (laughs).
Saying that, are your political plays like “Manus” also for a global audience?
Nazanin: “Manus” is a very person-oriented play. After the first public performance, many of our political parties did not support it. So, we need to keep global audiences in mind. To be honest, we don't need any political support.
Does it mean you don't care what the authorities think of your plays?
Nazanin: We respect everyone. But we do our job.
Are Iranians big theatre-goers?
Nazanin: The audience is growing. They are now more interested in theatre than they were before, although the situation is not the same in other cities. Tehran is more progressive than other parts of Iran in terms of arts and culture.
Is this your first visit to Bangladesh?
Nazanin: Yes. It is also our first performance outside Iran.
Can you share your experiences here?
Nazanin: Though we did not get enough time to see the country, the people we met here were very warm and wonderful.
What was the thought behind naming the troupe Verbatim?
Nazanin: The word verbatim means word for word. We like to tell the story of every person word by word in our play, and that is our motto.
Can you tell us about the conceptualisation of “Manus”?
Nazanin: We wish it could change something. The play lets you to be in the position of a mother, a daughter, a father and a person who had been actually there. So, you can put yourself in their shoes to experience the same pain they have gone through, at least a bit of it.
What is your experience of the theatre audience in Bangladesh?
Nazanin: The energy of audiences in Bangladesh is very good. Though, everyone in the audience may not have understood our play completely, they were very responsive during the show. Their appreciation of theatre is very good. At the festival it was a joy to see how much people love and value theatre.