In collaboration with the Institute for Promotion of Contemporary Arts, the live stage performance is accompanied with live music from August 23 to 27.  An Iranian cultural delegation is also attending to enhance the participation of Iran as the guest of honor at the major Asian event.

It goes without saying that the Iranian traditional performances such as Naqqali, which is a style of storytelling dedicated to Shahnameh epic stories of Ferdowsi, and a festival of Iranian films offer a good opportunity to introduce Iran’s art and culture. To this end, Iran’s Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults is displaying a collection of 100 publications as well.

Honaronline has arranged a short interview with the performers and director of the ongoing program, Sara Abbaspour, Parisa Simin Mehr, and Bahareh Jahandoust, as well as fiddle player Firouzeh Raeis Dana.

Abbaspour: We had similar shows in Serbia and Germany last year. We were invited to perform at the Beijing Book Fair this year. The only difference is that this time narrator Bahareh Jahandoust and fiddle player Firouzeh Raeis Dana is also part of the team. This year, there is another change in our performances; we are using a popular Chinese story as well. There is a touch of comedy into it. The idea is to attract greater audiences – speaking in the English language of course.

Simin Mehr: It is very difficult, almost impossible to narrate Iranian ancient stories in the Chinese language. I have performed Naqqali in places like Germany, Serbia, Italy and Tajikistan. Reception was  overwhelming everywhere. Each and every country has its own traditional way of narrating ancient stories. We use movements to tell a story, which is interesting to foreign audiences. What made the experience ever more entertaining was that women were behind the performances.

The whole idea is to show the influence of Iranian women in art. We want to promote Iranian art and culture in the world. Naqqali dramatic performance has long played an important role in Iranian society, from the courts to the villages. The performer - the Naqqal - recounts stories in verse or prose accompanied by gestures and movements, and sometimes instrumental music and painted scrolls. Both entertainers and bearers of Persian literature and culture, Naqqals need to be acquainted with local cultural expressions, languages and dialects, and traditional music. Naqqali requires considerable talent, a retentive memory and the ability to improvise with skill to captivate an audience. We have to promote this traditional art within the country but with a worldview.

Jahandoust: I have performed shows in Russia, India, Hungary, Turkey and Italy. In this show, I tell stories in English language. We are doing well in both Iran and abroad in our curtain readings and puppet shows. We never thought Naqqali could be so interesting to so many people and nationalities. Many expatriates love to watch our shows on the stage. Iranian children find it very interesting to listen to the epic stories of Shahnameh in the form of Naqqali.

Raeis Dana: Our puppet show is not a comedy. It’s the story of Rostam and Sohrab. I play fiddle as the main musical instrument in the puppet show. We also use melodies to sing songs as a choir. In some scenes I play fiddle to accompany the story narrators.