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L.I.S.A. Redaktion | 10/04/2017 | 857 Views | Movies by the Gerda Henkel Foundation |

Nationalism on Stage - Theatre in Iran

The General Interview with Prof. Dr. Christoph U. Werner | Episode 6

Researching Iranian theatre and cultural productions such as music and dance is a new field that scientists have only discovered in the last ten to 20 years. Often it was local historians who took an interest in their community’s theatre or the history of a certain theatre group who prompted such research work. Today, scientists face a wide variety of challenges: the limited access to source material on the one hand and the expectations that people have of such research work on the other. There still seems to be a persistent belief that Iranian theatre of the 1920s and 1930s was boring, given the prevailing censorship of the time. Prof. Christoph Werner sees a major task of the research project as casting a new perspective on the developments: What connection, if any, is there between theatre and other cultural forms? Is it at all possible to distinguish between early 20th-century theatre, music, cinema and dance? What connections are there between Iranian nationalism and theatre – and how did the newly forming Iranian state work with the theatre? Prof. Christoph Werner provides answers to these questions in our general interview. 



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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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