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‘Feathers of Fire – A Persian Epic’ Which Should not to be Missed

(Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts)

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The Persian poet Ferdowsi of Tous can be called Iran’s Shakespeare, and his The Shahnameh, Book of Kings, holds for Iranian culture the same position that the Odyssey and the Iliad holds for the West.  It is an epic of monumental length, the world’s longest work by a single poet, and is the reason that Iran maintained their native language rather than fall under the spell of Arabic.

It is, like the Old Testament, the history of a people told in a fusion of mythical tales and a historical past.

Hamid Rahmanian is a film maker and graphic artist who in 2013 undertook to illustrate the Shahnameh.  He has now transformed part of that effort to the stage as Feathers of Fire – A Persian Epic, a stunningly beautiful evening of lights, shadows and theatrical magic, in its final week at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Told through the art of shadow puppetry with the performers behind a scrim screen, the mythic aspects of the tale being told are expressed superbly and linked to a visual presentation that is all but intoxicating.

Rahmanian focuses his staging on the birth and ascension of Zaul from the second part of the Shahnameh, a story that has echoes of the Greek Oedipus; albeit a happier ending.

Zaul is born to King Saum, whose beloved queen dies while giving birth.

Beside himself with grief, and shocked by the infant’s hair which is flowing and white as snow, Saum takes him to the foothills of the Alborz Mountains where he abandons the babe to his fate.

But he is found by Simorgh, a phoenix who carries the child to her nest where she raises him as her own.

How Zaul regains his father’s love and his throne is the tale told in Feathers of Fire.  That the story is related in a narrative straight line is the major flaw of the evening.

However, it is the artistry in the telling of that tale which should be filling seats wherever this show plays, for Rahmanian and his fellow artists display an elegance and skill in this production that is almost mythic itself.

(**Featured Image:  Hamid Rahmanian with Puppet. — Courtesy of Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts)

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Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Bram Goldsmith Theater

9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA, 90210

Performance Dates:

Friday, October 20 – Sunday, October 29, 2017

Performance Schedule:
Tuesdays – Fridays at 7:30pm;
Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm & 7:30pm.

 

Tickets:

Single tickets: $35 – $125 (prices subject to change)

To Purchase Tickets or for Additional Information

Online – TheWallis.org/Feathers

By Phone – 310.746.4000

Box Office – Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Ticket Services

9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA, 90210

 


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An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, Among the Vipers was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist three times in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest's stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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