Iranian Theatre as Means of Intervention: The Intercultural Discourse in Hey! Macbeth, only the first dog knows why it is barking!

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Titowak and the Art of Southern Iran

Since its foundation in 1997, the Titowak Theatre Group has sought a different form of theatre. Their works attempt to reconcile the rituals of southern Iran with the modern theatre, and to present an amalgam of dance, music, and local traditions. Their practices are, on the one hand, to protect the Iranian rituals from extinction, and on the other hand, to exceed the limits of imposed censorship and to bring the spectator into a sociopolitical commitment. The works of Titowak are attempts to utilize both an interdisciplinary and an intercultural approach. Their works are interdisciplinary, because they build the discourse by bringing on stage dramatic text, music, dance, rituals (like the Zâr) and theatre. Their works are also intercultural because they are derived from different cultures (such as Iranian, Arab, Indian and African) and multiple methods of acting and styles (such as Kabuki, Kathakali, Butoh and the traditional, Persian religious drama the Ta’zyeh).

There is a link between this interdisciplinarity of the artistic practices compiled by Titowak and the interculturality of dramatic texts and theatrical styles that comprise the performative universe of their works. This explains how the creations of this theatre group are involved in Iranian today society as an informative and committed force. In most productions of Titowak, post-revolutionary Iran—with its cultural traditions, its sociopolitical quarrels as well as its ethnic diversity and its minorities—is reflected in the adaptation of Western texts (e.g. Macbeth, The Divine Comedy, the Mexican novel Like Water for Chocolate, etc). This intertextuality is rooted, first, in the hybrid culture of southern Iran (both religious and linguistic), as well as in the dramaturgical strategies that the director applies in his representations to circumvent censorship.

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