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BORIS Theses
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Performing Hamlet in modern Iran (1900-2012)

Ganjeh, Azadeh (2017). Performing Hamlet in modern Iran (1900-2012). (Thesis). Universität Bern, Bern

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The interest in the reception of Shakespeare beyond the borders of Britain has always been great, and scholarly writings on the issue have been very extensive. However, there are very few research projects focusing on the aspects of this reception in a country with a totally different cultural, political and social setting. It is well known to scholars in performance studies that local context could strongly influence a play's staging and interpretation. The socio-political situation and the influence of the dominant political powers on art are among the most decisive determinants of the context. When in 1932 the Shah invited a Russian-Armenian Hamlet to perform on stage in Iran, intellectuals and reformists attached great expectations to a “Hamlet” performance as a vehicle for fostering progress of modern theatre and facilitating modernisation. In the meantime, the state, as mobiliser of this phenomenon into the country, had its own political intentions. Since that date any production of “Hamlet” deals with a dynamic cultural and social exchange. This research aims at investigating this cultural mobility and its effect in the history of modern Iran. Iran is a country with a century-long history of performing "Hamlet" under three different authoritarian political regimes. The research tries to find out why Western theatre had always been an important and critical subject for Iran’s political systems, and what happened to “Hamlet” while passing cultural borders and dealing with impediments of the destination country. The evolution of Western drama from the cycles of mystery and miracle plays is well known. Less well understood is the parallel development in Iran. By the late 19th century, the mystery play, “Taziya” was on the brink of giving birth to a secular Iranian drama. However, due to the turbulent history of the Constitutional Revolution at the beginning of the 20th century and the fundamental social and political changes in the big towns of Iran, “Taziya” lost royal and upper-class patronage. From the middle of the 19th century onward, the production of Western dramas was encouraged. Iranians had their first glimpse at Shakespeare through a translation of “The Taming of the Shrew” in 1900, and since then Shakespeare absorbed significant attention of Iranian elites who presumed theatre as the best instrument for importing modern culture to Iranian society. Shakespeare's importance in view of the Constitutional Revolution is, to some extent, that this constitutional period can be called Shakespeare period. Among all of Shakespeare's translated works, “Hamlet” received the widest attention in modern Iranian theatre. The victory of the Islamic Revolution was followed by enthusiastic efforts aimed at transforming this very Western art of drama, into a fully local form of art based on the new revolutionary culture and values. There is no doubt that every major social event, particularly cultural and political revolutions are followed by their own specific culture, literature and art. After the initial onset of the Islamic Revolution, more Farsi translations and adaptions of “Hamlet” have appeared than of any other Shakespeare's works. Hamlet's nature, as persona, is of such fluidity that it enables him to conform to diverse circumstances. With significant growth in the use of symbolism and signs in theatrical performances, “Hamlet” turned out to perform as the best metaphor of the current situation. With the help of a descriptive research method my research tries to clarify the circulation of “Hamlet” from text to performance on Iranian stages and the role of agencies in this transportation. Based on qualitative data collection, interviews and analysis of the theory of cultural mobility and semiotics, four effective elements are being analysed: Religion, Power, Gender and Agency. The research will be narrowed by Case Study of nine highly relevant “Hamlet” productions in the historical epoch of 1900 to 2012.

Item Type: Thesis
Dissertation Type: Single
Date of Defense: 2017
Additional Information: e-Dissertation (edbe)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Theatre studies Cultural mobility Iran Hamlet
Subjects: 700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment
Institute / Center: 06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Theater Studies
Depositing User: Admin importFromBoris
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2019 12:57
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2019 12:57

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