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L.I.S.A. Redaktion | 10/11/2017 | 924 Views | Movies by the Gerda Henkel Foundation |

Nationalism on Stage - Theatre in Iran

The General Interview with Anna Heller M.A. | Episode 7

Theatre enjoys a special standing in Iran. On the one hand it is subject to state censorship, but on the other it serves as a means of disseminating state cultural policy. Accordingly, the socio-historical background of a play is more interesting than its literary value: Who are the enemies and role models – and what do they say about the play’s creator and audiences? Alongside the propagandist plays, historical works also find their way to the stage. But it is not unusual for the dramas that address Iran’s pre-Islamic past to contain hidden criticism. In her doctoral dissertation Anna Heller M.A. explores all of these issues. To begin with, she sets out her motivation and first impressions of her research project. 



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The Project
To date, little attention has been paid to modern art forms as an expression of secular and anti-Islamic movements; at most the topic was skimmed over in cultural and socio-historical studies on the Middle Eastern region. Both modernist literary figures whose thinking was influenced by Western concepts of nationalism and the Pahlavi state saw their task as shaping a modern national conscious. The preferred medium for advocating their secular concepts of morality and modernity was the theatre. This project seeks to examine nationalism in Iran at a time when no other mass media existed apart from the press, and theatre played an important role as a vehicle for communicating nationalist ideas. The aim is to reach socio-historical conclusions about the way the Iranian state’s modernization policy was disseminated and its social reception by the multimedia phenomenon of the theatre. A key issue in analysing the ideological effectiveness of the theatre is the extent to which this secular art form projected the image of an anti-Islamic movement.

Project leadership

Prof Dr Christoph Werner



Academic Project Manager
Prof Dr Christoph Werner

Academic Project Assistant
Anna Heller

Editorial Teams
Dr Natascha Bagherpour

Camera Technicians
Resa Asarschahab

Edting Technicians
Resa Asarschahab

Overall Planning Teams
Gisela Graichen and Peter Prestel

All episodes
The City Theatre Library
Episode 1
Search for Traces in Lalehzar Street
Episode 2
The National Libraries in Tehran - Centres of Knowledge
Episode 3
Theatre then and now: A Talk with Delara Noushin
Episode 4
Work on Sources: What the Texts Reveal
Episode 5
The General Interview with Prof. Dr. Christoph U. Werner
Episode 6
The General Interview with Anna Heller M.A.
Episode 7

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