We are looking for a theater stripped of artifice, a theater without the influence of cinema and television. We are in search of a theater that will engage the imagination of its audience, an audience as creative as the performers. Our subject is the subject of Man with all of His complexities and dilemmas. And this dialogue can only take place in the light, not in the shadows of stage lighting; acting and speaking to the darkness. Our light is as bright as the sun’s on the stage. We are Elemental Ensemble and we are returning to the basic elements of theater.
Mohammad B. Ghaffari actor and director, began his career as an actor and in 1971 joined Peter Brook’s international research center to perform at the Shiraz Festival or Arts. He subsequently produced Ta’ziyeh and the comic improvisatory ru-howzi for the same festival. In 1978, he moved to N
ew York and worked as an actor and director at Ellen Stewart’s La Mama E.T.C. He taught acting from 1982 to 1992 at Colombia University and in 1983 was Jerzy Grotowski’s assistant. At the 1991 Festival of Avignon he directed the first Ta’ziyeh to be performed in the West with Iranian actors, followed by productions in Paris and New York.
William O. Beeman is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota. He was formerly Professor of Anthropology and Theatre and Director of Middle East Studies at Brown University. Known as a Middle East Specialist for more than 30 years, he is recognized for special expertise in Iranian culture. He is author of 14 books including Iranian Performance Traditions (Mazda Publishers, 2011).
John Emigh is Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University. He was founding Chairperson of the Association for Asian Performance, is the author of Masked Performance (U Penn, 1996), has directed over 75 plays and performed one-person shows based on Balinese masked dance and theatre. In 2009, he received the Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s Career Achievement Award for Educational Theatre.
Rabeah Ghaffari is a writer, filmmaker and actress. She has performed at La MaMa, ETC and The Kitchen. Her film credits include Windows, by Shoja Azari (TIFF 2006). She directed the documentary The Troupe featuring Tony Kushner, produced by Shirin Neshat. Her film editing credits include Zohreh Shayesteh’s Inside Out (TIFF 2006). Her screenplay, Neyshapoor, was a selection of IFP 2005. She was a Fellow of the Berlinale Talent Campus 2005 and the Sundance Screenwriters Lab 2006. She is at work on her first novel.