The Three Sisters took the stage of Tehran City Theater's NO HALL in late September and it will soon end its performance. The NEWSHA Troupe had previously staged the play in Chekhov Week celebrations in Tehran. The current interview was conducted prior to the recent staging of the play.
Anton Chekhov's Drama
Why The Three Sisters?
Rahimi: It goes back to what our troupe originally set out as its objective. As a director I believe that a theater person is not an alchemist, that the original text has to be rich; as such I am looking at 100 superior plays with a strong leitmotif. These are plays that inspired the "modern play."
Newsha first formed as BUDAN Troupe. It set out to perform classic plays of the world, keeping true to the text. They started with The Ring of General Macias and The Three Sisters is their 15th performance.
Additions and Deletions
From the troupe's previous works it seems that you introduce new elements into classic plays. What did you do here?
Rahimi: For one thing, we tried to use the entire stage area of the No Hall. We eliminated the physical presence of one of the pivotal characters (SOLYONY) as well as the final scene where this character kills TUZENBACH. With the elimination of this physical presence, we replaced it with a voice. Our motifs, then, take on an audio characteristic, a transformation akin to BODY Art and DANCE Art. What we call Dance is an attempt by the performers to understand their surroundings when they find themselves in a particular geography. Mimodrama, which has come of age in the past 30 years, is one the important tools of the art of performance and one that we have used here as a narrative technique. The difference between a narrator in a work of fiction and that of theater is that in fiction two or three narrators can coexist (hidden narrator, third person narrator, which can sometimes turn into a first person), but in theater all the elements have a narrative function. Even the leitmotif in this play has assumed a narrative role.
Voices: Baron Tuzenbach, Madam Ranuski, Nina, Libeldov, Varia, Charlotta, Uncle Vania, Natasha, Lieutenant Solyony, Bubic.
In a way, then, you are doing a visual narration rather than a play based on text?
Rahimi: It is important to get to the essence of each image, to the point that images won't be burdened by words. They are liberated to go their own way. Once all the visual elements speak to the audience, we have reached Performance Art. One the other hand, for The Three Sisters, we realized that the audience is coming to see a play, so we cannot call it Performance Art per se.
Characters: Chebutykin, Olga, Vershinin, Irina, Andrey Prozorov, Masha, Lieutenant Solyony.
Recently in the City Theater we have witnessed activities taking place outside performance halls, for example, we have seen performances in the coffee shop or we have seen photograph exhibitions in the waiting spaces of the complex. Have you also considered setting up such side shows for your work?
Rahimi: No, we don't have side shows, but everything happens within the play – voice, sculpture, photograph exhibit. All these peripheral elements came up in the group and I only worked the details. We should see these side shows as part of the totality of the play. I personally don't believe in ornaments on stage because everything should be part of the body of the play.
Peripherals: Sculptures, photography, and stage set up.