A Persian myth we can connect to: UMass Theater‘s Aurash is a story about an ordinary person’s heroism

February 24, 25 and March 1, 2, 3, 4 at 7:30 p.m.
February 25 at 2:00 p.m.
The Curtain Theater, Bromery Center for the Arts
$15 general admission, $5 students and seniors 

Aurash is a Persian story of an ordinary person in an extraordinary situation, who found the spirit to carry out a heroic act that changed a country’s future. In the months since Iranian director Behnam Alibakhshi proposed it for the 22-23 UMass Theater season, it has become ever more shatteringly relevant as a tribute to the courageous women and men fighting for freedom in his home country.

This stage version of Aurash, presented Feb. 24-March 4, is an hour-long immersion in a foundational Persian myth. Graduate student Alibakhshi has created a production that draws richly on the theater and storytelling traditions he grew up with and blended them with western theater forms. Audience members will see a set and costumes that reflect color palettes common to Iran; they’ll hear Persian music as they enter the space, and they’ll see actors moving in ritualized ways.

The story of Aurash the Archer (sometimes spelled Arash) began as an oral tradition in Persia (now known as Iran) and was written down over 1000 years ago. After a long and bloody war, an archer was charged with shooting an arrow that would determine the future boundaries of Persia, bringing a peaceful and prosperous age to the country. In the original telling he was a noble, but in this adaptation by Bahram Beyza’ie, one of Iran’s leading playwrights, he is an ordinary man of modest background.

Alibakhshi has cast a woman as one of the actors who portrays Aurash, something he had considered even before the current protests began. Woman have been a part of protests in the country for a long time, he noted, despite pushback from the regime and the tremendous risk to themselves and their loved ones. “I think they are the bravest women in the world,” Alibakshi said.

Iran has a long and rich cultural history. Alibakhshi noted that ancient Persian documents contain some of the first discussions of human rights. He is critical of the current government. 

“Where are those cultural values right now?” he asked. The myth of Aurash “is reminding people of a glorious past that we have lost.”

Alibakhshi hopes audience members — and not just those from Iran — see something to inspire them in the story of this ordinary person who finds the spirit to act heroically.

Purchase your tickets now!

Tickets are available through the Fine Arts Center box office

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