Monday, August 19, 2019

All Quiet on the Western Front at Greenhouse Theatre Center, Chicago


“ON THE WALL WAS CHALKED:
They want war.
The man who wrote it
Has already fallen.

THOSE AT THE TOP SAY:
This way to glory.
Those down below say:
This way to the grave.

THE WAR WHICH IS COMING
Is not the first one. There were
Other wars before it.
When the last one came to an end
There were conquerors and conquered.
Among the conquered the common people
Starved. Among the conquerors
The common people starved too.”

With the rise of totalitarianism in the world; Erich Maria Remarque's 1928 renowned anti-war novel All Quiet on the Western Front, motivates Matt Foss, playwright and director, to reintroduce the notion of brutality of war in order to challenge the audience to rethink what would lead inexperienced youth to enlist into a new world war. The book was banned and burned in Germany during the rise of the Nazi Party. Now, we are witnessing new signs of nationalistic censorship growing in different societies.


Having lived through an eight-year war; assisting wounded soldiers and villagers in a war zone where an uncalculated/accidental movement could be a matter of life and death; the play evoked dark memories that war is nothing but destruction and death. Despite the play’s demonstration that war causes permanent physical and mental trauma, increases vulnerability to terror and savagery in all forms; it deepens your understanding of politics, increases your empathy and strengthens your ability see through how the warmongers behind the scenes create and precipitate wars. 



Matt Foss’s adaptation is superbly theatrical with cinematic elements under his brilliant directing. The performance at Greenhouse Theatre Center is a polished work of art in all its different elements. The stage is spacious with elegant symmetrical lights, the beautiful, uncluttered setting of wires backstage and several pianos which were used brilliantly as scenes shifted in synchronization with the sound of explosions, bombs, and combats.  They were also used simply to break the total silence…or to emit a painful moan during knife strikes…Each scene dissolves and transforms into another scene smoothly and uninterruptedly. 



Play starts with the mixture of narration and performance, physical actions, choreography, movements, atmospheric images, in harmony with artistic use of music, hymns, rapid change of lights, sound effects, voice overs and effective silences with tic tocs marking time. All these theatrical elements worked well with some experimentation of German cabaret style and modern music and dance as a vital form of entertainment.



The intimate collaboration between director, actors, set designer, sound designer and composer, light designer, costume designer and choreographer, give the impression that the outcome of the process was the clear result of a skilled directing, techniques, discipline, cooperation, pure love, and hard work. The choice of multi-racial and gender ensemble gives the actors comfort and confidence to be completely connected, cooperative and present on the stage.  All the actors, equally, put their heart into their multi roles and performed magnificently. Elena Victoria Feliz as Paul, the narrator, was pensive, meditative and poetic. One of the unforgettable scenes was when Paul was granted leave to go back home to see his mother. The train, the sharp light as the sun, the encounter with his mother and sister, and the bar scene where his alienation with the absurdity of war was exceeded by the patriotic absurdity of the townspeople. This scene is one of the greatest scenes in this play.



All Quiet on the Western Front is highly recommended.

photos by Austin Oie


OPENING AUGUST 16th and running through SEPTEMBER 14th.
Fridays at 7:30
Saturdays at 7:30
Sundays at 2:30
Mondays (Industry Night) at 7:30

All Performances at the GREENHOUSE THEATRE CENTER, 2257 N Lincoln Ave

Cast & Creative Team

Cast: Charlotte Mae Ellison, Caitlin Ewald, Elena Victoria Feliz, Ian Maryfield, Colin Morgan, Alec Phan, Collin Quinn Rice, Laila Rodrigues, Brenda Scott Wlazlo*, Bianca Canigila (US), Austin Rambo (US)
Writer/Director: Matt Foss
Artistic Director:
 Max Truax*
Assistant Director: Kate Staiger
Producer: Ambrose Cappuccio*
Stage Manager: Emily Melgard
Assistant Stage Manager: Dan Poppen
Props Designer: Matt Foss
Casting Director: Catherine Miller
Sound Design and Composer: Dan Poppen
Costume Designer: Rachel Sypniewski
Lighting Design: Stephen Sakowski
Movement and Choreography: Leah Urzendowski
Scenic Design: Nick Schwartz*
Teaser Poster Design: CM Dugan
Marketing Director: Casey Chapman*
Associate Marketing Manager & Webmaster: Joseph Ramski*

Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Review on some books

نوشته ای که می خوانید نگاه من است به چند كتاب پارسي زبان كه اخيرن خوانده ام. كتاب "شب تير" نوشته ژوان ناهيد بخش نخست آن است

 My review of several books published in a weekly online magazine: Shahrgon . The first part is on Joan Nahid's book.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Drugging of the American Boy

Very important points in this essay published in esquire.com :

"By the time they reach high school, nearly 20 percent of all American boys will be diagnosed with ADHD. Millions of those boys will be prescribed a powerful stimulant to "normalize" them. A great many of those boys will suffer serious side effects from those drugs. The shocking truth is that many of those diagnoses are wrong, and that most of those boys are being drugged for no good reason—simply for being boys. It's time we recognize this as a crisis."

 image

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Poet Jane Kenyon's Advise on Writing

Poet Jane Kenyon's Advise  on Writing:

"Spoken with the unpretentious honesty of her own experience as a working poet with decades of trial and triumph under her belt, Kenyon’s counsel comes as an offering of love:
Tell the whole truth. Don’t be lazy, don’t be afraid. Close the critic out when you are drafting something new. Take chances in the interest of clarity of emotion.
The closing passage — the one tacked above Shapiro’s desk — contains some of the most ennobling tenets for a human being to live by:
Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours."

The Banality of Evil...

 Read this great article at Brainpickings

The Banality of Evil, Hannah Arendt on the normalization of the Human wickedness:

“Under conditions of terror most people will comply but some people will not… No more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation.”

Inanna

 Poetic Symbology of the Heroine’s Journey: Artist Nancy Castille’s Stunning Homage to the Sumerian Proto-Feminist Goddess Inanna

Castille writes in her artist statement:
The Sumerian myths are told by ancient peoples, on the cusp of the primitive and the mythic, emerging into a world organized by agriculture and the rise of large city-states. Although they are “only myths”, they tell of a still deeper history — the history of the human spirit as it has traveled through time, trying to make sense of its environment and constantly searching for meaning in life. Our souls are fortified and strengthened when they are exposed to such stories, stories that tell us more about the spirits and souls of our distant ancestors. From them, we derive a wisdom fearless and deep. The heart and soul of mankind shines out from the darkness of the past.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Central Park Five & When They See Us

It's crucial that every citizen; especially parents and teenagers, to watch The Central Park Five, a documentary film by Ken Burns and Sara Burns and When They See Us, a film based on the actual wrongful conviction of five innocent teenagers in 1989, directed by Ava DuVernay.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

We Are Pussy Riot in Chicago


The Hammer

I have seen
The old gods go
And the new gods come.

Day by day
And year by year
The idols fall
And the idols rise.

Today
I worship the hammer. 



We Are Pussy Riot or(everything is PR), a factual portrayal of “Pussy Riot” the Russian political activist group, is in its second week of performances at Red Tape Theatre. This Highly theatrical and informative play, performed in didactic style and guerrilla performances form, challenges the audience members with an intentional *hammer to encourage thinking instead of letting them sit back and be immersed in emotions of the story. 

In an anarchic and chaotic opening scene, with a striking 1984 George Orwellian setting, the three punk rock characters, Nadya, Katya and Masha re-enact an anti-establishment and anti-patriarchal religion act, while singing in loud, fast-paced songs accompanied by electric guitars, sharp-edged movements and short dialogue. Influenced by the Riot Grrrl Movement, the young members of the Pussy Riot group try to express their protest on crucial subjects such as: growing inequalities, social injustice, poverty, corruption, bureaucracy, dictatorship and the absence of true democracy. Their anarchism and propaganda gestures are their only instrument to protest against the authorities and challenge the lethargic societies, aiming to awaken the public to see glimpses of realities, challenging them to think, to act and react.

The satirical language combined with serious narration by Sergei, a professor of history gives the play a tinge of docudrama which brings to mind a quick glimpse of “La Commune” by prominent filmmaker Peter Watkins.

Kate Hendrickson, the director brought together a stylistic direction fitted with the nature of the play.The artistic use of theatrical elements such as shadow puppetry, various physical actions, invasion of bodies and lands, rape and giving birth scenes, work beautifully conveying the thoughts behind the play on the essence of patriarchy and tyranny. Some scenes reflect Chaplin’s the Great Dictator and others Federico Fellini’s Satyricon where male authorities repeatedly and metaphorically come out of the women’s wombs.

The real Pussy Riot group considers itself a part of the global anti-capitalist movement, and their focus is more on global economic inequality, women’s rights, LGBT rights and Trotskyist’s theory of permanent revolution. My personal hope in the play was to see deeper aspects of their activism to broaden the audiences’ perspective on broader issues. Their outrage about imperial politics, their belief in radical feminism and economic equality which bring crucial subjects to light and make the audience think globally towards the world we live in.

A true theatre encourages conversations among the audience as well as the actors, directors and playwrights. It inspires them to do a deeper research on the truth and experience the essence of actual process and tangible experience. This show truly does so. 

I was immensely impressed with the actors’ artistic talents and devotion to the show. Casey Chapman as Vladimir Putin is outstanding, resilient and realistic. Emily Nichelson, Stephanie Shum, Anne Sovenneville  Emilie Modaff and William Rose II, truly shine on the stage. Their performances range from great vocal presence, body movements to the energy and insight to engage with the audience. The production shows a strong collaboration and sincerity behind the scene and the ending is spectacular when the actors introduce themselves....

I highly recommend it.

*Bertolt Brecht: “Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

Red Tape Theatre
4546 N. Western Ave.
Chicago IL 60625

By: Barbara Hammond
Director: Kate Hendrickson
Cast: Dionne Addai, Casey Chapman*, Zoë DePreta*, Jalyn Green, Nora King*, Emilie Modaff*, Emily Nichelson*, Alec Phan, Joseph Ramski*, William Rose, Stephanie Shum*, Ann Sonneville*
Producer: Amrbose Cappuccio*
Artistic Director: Max Truax*
Stage Manager: Tara Malpass
Assistant Stage Manager: Alex Oparka
Production Assistant / Props Designer: Amelia Mroczkowski
Original Music Composed and Arranged by: Emilie Modaff*, Alec Phan
Movement Director: Charlotte Long*
Scenic Designer: Chris Popio
Costume Design:  Rachel Sypniewski
Lighting Designer: David Goodman-Edberg
Sound Design: Steve Labedz*
Casting Director: Catherine Miller
Poster Design:
Bridget Schultz*
Teaser Poster Design: Joseph Ramski*
Marketing Director: Casey Chapman*
Still Photos: Austin Oie*

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Flood in Iran

Disastrous flood is devastating Iranian people and ruining their lives since Persian New Year (Norooz). It's heartbreaking to see how they struggle through this catastrophic situation...and the whole world is silent!!...as if humanity is only a forgotten word in an archaic book!



Friday, March 29, 2019

Reading in Vancouver

I will read some stories from my new collection of short stories in Vancouver in Persian.


My New Book


My new collection of short stories "The Woman Reluctantly Said Goodbye" and " A Girl called Bibi Botol Dezfuli"  is published by Mehri Publications in London.