TEHRAN.(Iranart) – American playwright David Mamet’s work “Oleanna” is being performed by an Iranian troupe at Tehran’s Molavi Theater.
Kiarash Dastyari is the director of the troupe, which will perform the play every night until October 16. The play has been translated into Persian by Ali-Akbar Alizadeh.
Ashkan Afshari, Vida Liravi, Shahrad Hesami and Marzieh Bazyar are members of the cast.
In the 1992 two-character play, a male college instructor and his female student sit down to discuss her grades and, in a terrifyingly short time, become participants in a modern reprise of the Inquisition.
Innocuous remarks suddenly turn damning. Socratic dialogue gives way to heated assault. And the relationship between a somewhat fatuous teacher and his seemingly hapless pupil turns into a fiendishly accurate X-ray of the mechanisms of power, censorship and abuse.
The play’s title, taken from a folk song, refers to a 19th-century escapist vision of utopia.
Mamet adapted his play into a 1994 film of the same name starring William H. Macy and Debra Eisenstadt.
Roger Ebert, whose review of the film is primarily about the off-Broadway production he saw over a year earlier, was “astonished” to report that “Oleanna” was not a very good film, characterizing it as awkward and lacking in “fire and passion.”
This is in contrast to what Ebert wrote about the performance of the play he saw at the Orpheum, “Experiencing David Mamet’s play ‘Oleanna’ on the stage was one of the most stimulating experiences I’ve had in a theater.
“In two acts, he succeeded in enraging all of the audience – the women with the first act, the men with the second.
“I recall loud arguments breaking out during the intermission and after the play, as the audience spilled out of an off-Broadway theater all worked up over its portrait of… sexual harassment? Or was it self-righteous Political Correctness?”
Iranian director Mehdi Kushki also staged the play at Gelayol Hall of the Shahrzad Theater Complex in 2020.