Presentation on theme: "Ta’ziyeh In Translation Finding Our Own Stories Through The Story That Has Been Told."— Presentation transcript:
Ta’ziyeh In Translation Finding Our Own Stories Through The Story That Has Been Told
Introduction Ta'ziyeh is an ancient and uniquely Iranian passion play that reenacts the martyrdom of Hussein, grandson of the prophet Muhammad, in the desert of Karbala in the 7 th century Presented annually during the first 10 days of Muharram, 1 st month of the Islamic Lunar calendar It depicts an event that is at the root of the separation of the Shi’ia from the Sunni branch of Islam
Events Leading to the Story Prophet’s death presented a constitutional challenge – how to select a successor? Sunni’s: elect the caliph Shi’ites: blood line of Muhammad (Ali) Ali elected 4 th caliph then assassinated Hassan poisoned Hussein threatened
The Story of Ta’ziyeh Hussein leaves Mecca after he is secretly invited to Kufa to take the caliphate The Sunni caliph Yazid, sends forces to intercept Hussein & followers in the desert of Kerbela After ten days of siege where they are kept with no water, Hussein, all his male next of kin, and their supporters are shot with arrows, cut to bits by the swords of the enemy army and their dismembered bodies are trampled into the desert under the hooves of horses. Their severed heads are brought to Yazid in Damascus, together with Hussein’s chained female relatives.
Ten Day Cycle Journey from Mecca to Kufa –Murder of Moslem & his two boys Encirclement in Karbala –Hur intercepts & escorts the group to the desert Tasu-a –Shemr takes over, last attempt to persuade Hussein Battle of Ashura –Individual stories of sacrifice & martyrdom Sham-e Gharibaan –Tents are burned down & camp looted
Similarities with Christian Cycle Plays Funeral cycles that originated in mourning rituals and religious processions Using collective grief as an occasion to celebrate and the sorrow of the martyred death, a cause for triumph Makes audience one with the drama: common set of beliefs & system of ethics, shared language, common enemy
A Fish Out of Water? Ta’ziyeh presumes an initiated audience of believers
Past Experiments Mahmood Karimi Hakak –Hussain as a communist leader Mohammad Ghaffari –Trinity College (1988) Sufi tale in English: Moses & the Wondering Dervish –Lincoln Center (2001) Traditional Ta’ziyeh in Persian by troupe from Iran
Challenges Definition of Hero & Heroism –Submission not a dramatic choice Islam –Reputation as violent religion Production Values –Minimal & symbolic Performance Style –Representational not realistic
Approaches Adapt to a different/contemporary setting (communist outcast/hero) Update language or replace with familiar language (Rumi) Choose less controversial segments or familiar characters (Moses/Dervish) Update production elements (music)
Why Now? Why Here? Religious iconography as a political tool –Us versus Them: the righteous versus the evil doers, God is on our side –War on Terror: the new Crusade, triumph at any price –Martyrdom: Heaven as real estate –Brave New World: speeding up the end of the world.
Why Ta’ziyeh? 9/11 On this day does anyone recall his loneliness for his brother, Or describe the capture of his sister? Their manifest cries are for the oppressed ones, Or for the tyranny of the oppressing enemies. War in Iraq O sufferer of sorrow, the world loves thee; Old and young mourn thee with broken hearts. The dust of thy threshold is too the place of prayer of mankind, And Karbala is the prayer ground of angels.
Why Ta’ziyeh? The women wondered amid the burning tents Like the reflection of stars on water. The small children, from around the tents, Ran in all directions, like fiery sparks from the heart. Other than their lacerated lives which could not be reached by the vicious enemy, Nothing remained to them of their torn possessions. Fingers were cut off for the sake of rings; Earlobes were torn for their earrings. The grandson of that king whose exalted name is called At morning, noon and night from the minarets, Has fallen in the blood and dust, and they trample his body With their horses’ hoofs which strike screams from rocks.
Glorifying Martyrdom or Communal Catharsis? Who are the “glorified martyrs” in our society? What does the reenactment of such events do in a community? What is our relationship to death, to war? Could we benefit from a communal mourning ritual? Does the ritual of grieving perpetuate or lend closure to loss?