It seems every few months another newspaper publishes a think-piece about how technology or millennials are degrading language and the art of communication. In this confessional lecture-style theatre piece, three poetry enthusiasts unravel the thousand-years-old tradition of Persian poetry as a courtship ritual, a fortune teller, and a wise guide to life.
First Nations Elder Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor welcomed the audience and opened the performance with her own love poem, which set the scene for a journey into some universal truths. Hosts Bibi Goul Mossavi, Mahdi Mohammadi, and Jawad Yaqoubi pace quietly through the carpeted set while explaining the history of Persian poetry from Rumi to the Quran to modern day texting where poems are sent for all manner of occasions. Lighting designer Neil Simpson projected elaborate animations by Sean Bacon onto the back wall and various moveable panels throughout the production to change location between a traditional courtyard, a legendary battle scene, or amongst chirping finches and sparrows.
Mossavi, Mohammadi, and Yaqoubi took turns sharing personal stories about their own trials with love which they then connected to the words of great Persian poets. They swapped between Persian and English, leaving some things untranslated, which was particularly affecting for the novices in the audience who were unfamiliar with the rhymes and rhythms of Persian poetry. At once the stories were personal and specific to the speakers, showing their vulnerability either in moments of shame or private joy, and also very familiar as they were woven into a much larger conversation about stories and patterns of human experience that stretches back centuries to the height of the Persian Empire.
The most moving aspect of the production was seeing how poetry is used in the modern day either to flirt between young people in the bazaar or when trying to reach across oceans with family members back home in Afghanistan and Iran. The projections included recording of video calls the hosts had with their family members like one between Mohammadi and his mother as they shared songs with each other. The way these words are passed down through generations and used to convey difficult feelings demonstrated the power bound up in poetry where the words carry a history, an understanding, a community. Mossavi even called a poet currently living in Kabul, Afghanistan to share his love poetry live which was a wonderful teaming of old and new technology.
Dorr-e Dari was a sweet recognition of an old tradition and a joyful introduction to a vibrant world for the uninitiated. If they weren’t able to solve all of your romance worries on the night, they certainly gave you the tools to do so.
Dorr-e Dari ran at Carriageworks from January 20th – 24th as part of Sydney Festival
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