boat people projekt stands in solidarity with the women* and all people in Iran who are courageously taking to the streets for democracy and freedom all over the country!
We would like to use our platform to share the protest video of the Iranian theater makers Hamid Pourazari and Soheila Golestani collective group. Iranian authorities have arrested actress Soheila Golestani, who appeared in a protest video without a headscarf. Director Hamid Pourazari, who appears in the video, was also detained. Both have since been released on parole.
Further information on the situation of artists and theater makers in Iran can be found on the website of the International Theater Institute:
Außerdem hat unser iranischer Kollege Anoush Masoudi, welcher derzeit in Berlin lebt und arbeitet, ein sehr ausdrückliches und starkes Statement zur Performance verfasst, das wir hier in der Vollversion veröffentlichen (Dezember 2022):
The show is over and the truth becomes visible
About the political performance of ‘Hamid Pourazari and Soheila Golestani collective group’
von Anoush Masoudi
Zero. Saeid Soltanpour, Iranian political activist and theater director, had a strong interest in bringing theater into the public atmosphere. In 1980, he performed with his collective the documentary theater: “Mr. Abbas the Iran International worker” in different public places, such as universities, parks and factories. In March 1981, on his wedding night, he was arrested by the Islamic Republic security forces. After 66 days in prison, in the early morning of a day in May, he was executed by the regime. No theater or artistic group talks about this crime, not his enemies, nor his friends.
One. Not only in Iran’s Islamic republic but also in general “power” doesn’t like rebellious and revolutionary theater, because theater in its main function could create a collective act or even a community. Theater is a chance for performers and spectators, as they both experience something in the same space and the same moment. An act or an action that can be continued, re-created and spread out in many different ways. And more significantly, theater is unpredictable, and unpredictability is the most dangerous feature of any movement, action or art. It is a true threat to “power”.
Two. The world is a scene for the creative performer and each corner of the world could have a new function as a theatrical scene for a true artist. Occupying spaces is a very important possibility of theater. A show can move out from a black box space, move on to a street, go further and occupy urban spaces, go to suburbs and impoverished neighborhoods, to all suppressed minorities and give them imagination and power to imagine something beyond their limits. A true theater artist can change a slaughterhouse to a cultural space and transform a cultural space to a demonstration scene. These are very old functions of theater. Theater can take back spaces from the powerful and can occupy different spaces, from real to virtual.
Three. Online Theater vs. Analog Theater, Internet Theater vs. Street Theater, and etc. COVID-19 pandemic and its obstacles has shaped different academic and artistic discourses about the meaning of theater in our era and the role of post-media regarding theater. Many theater artists and theoreticians were asking basic questions about the meaning of theater again: “What is theater?”, “Theater must be live”, “Theater can only exist with audiences”, “Online Theater is a part of theater”, and etc. These questions and answers are still fresh for many critics and artists, mostly in Western countries.
Four. In Iran since the 1980s, presenting and showing ‘hair’ and any uncovered part of a woman's body except her face is forbidden and is punishable by law. Also, in Iran social platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are blocked.
Five. In the middle of the Iranian movement, famous for its chant “Woman, Life, Freedom”, as the Islamic regime was brutally suppressing demonstrations and arresting all the actresses who were demonstrating against the mandatory Hijab law and other forms of discrimination against women, a 53 second video was published. This video was from a ‘theater group’ and was published on ‘Instagram’. Each of the phrases in the apostrophes are important.
Six. The video: A man is already inside the scene, as a woman- without the mandatory Hijab- enters into the frame. Then sixteen other performers, men and women, walked into the scene and stared at the camera; at us. They were watching us, in silence. They are in a park, in a public space in Tehran. Among them are women with short or long hair and men with long or short hair, all in dark clothes. Except the natural voice of crows in the background, everything is unnatural in this simple scene. Because the women inside this frame are shown as ‘free’; free of their special dress code. These performers have come from their theater space to a public space, all in black and free to remind us that something was/is happening on the streets of Iran, something we can call a ‘revolution’.
Seven. The first man and woman of this theatrical scene are Hamid Pourazari and Soheila Golestani, they are two creative Iranian independent theater artists. Soheila Golestani, published this video with a very short text on her private Instagram account. In the short text was written: “The show is over and the truth becomes visible”. Far from all academic and artistic discussions about theater and the internet, in Iran, in a country of suppression, social media and Instagram played their roles as the video was viewed and shared thousands of times in less than a few hours. A show that had happened in a public space, was recorded by a digital camera, was published only on social media, occupied spaces, real and virtual spaces. The show went further and became a sign of resistance and revolution.
Eight. This show finishes at its beginning, when the performers just arrive at the scene, the ‘show’ as a show, as a play, is over and the truth enters into the scene. Performers and their acts are not there to cover something but are there to uncover 43 years of lies. For the first time, after the 1979 revolution, a collective theater group created a scene in a public space to put an end to the 43 years of the Islamic republic’s ‘show’ and this is the beginning of the truth. These 53 seconds got republished on social media many times in many forms, until other Iranian theater groups from other cities came out, entered public spaces, and re-created the courageous act of the Golestani/Pourazari’s collective group. The show is over but the truth is occupying the Iranian public atmospheres, virtual and real spaces. The show, at its end, became a part of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” revolution.
Nine. Soheila Golestani and Hamid Pourazari were arrested on 30th of October, 2022 by the Islamic Republic security forces, where do we want to stand now?