Written by director and expert of Iranian traditional plays Davud Fat’halibeigi, “Uncle Hashem” centers on the life of Fayyaz, an expert who mostly used to play the role of Shimr, the villain who beheaded Imam Hussain (AS) in the Battle of Karbala.

Born in 1921, he was one of the last tazieh performers of the Dowlat Tekyeh, a place for seasonal Islamic ceremonies that was built during the reign of Qajar king Nasser ad-Din Shah near the Golestan Palace in downtown Tehran.

Fayyaz was also a famous figure in the international arena, and some of his tazieh scripts sealed with his name are preserved at the Vatican Museums. 

The expert also had several performances in international festivals across the world, and was praised by the English director and writer Peter Brook after his performance at the Avignon Theater Festival in 1991.

Fat’halibeigi has called the play a tribute to the veteran tazieh performer who died in 2004. 

“The play is actually a recreation of part of the memories of Hashem Fayyaz. In older times, tazieh troupes used to travel to remote places and on the way they used to stop in the villages and perform tazieh. Of course, they might have been through hard times but they had also helped promote the culture of tazieh and religious stories among those who were far from any facilities,” Fat’halibeigi had earlier said.

“In this way, tazieh was kept alive over all these years, and even now despite social media, many still gather to watch tazieh, and this shows that this art is liked by many,” he added.

Fat’halibeigi said that the play is based on one of Fayyaz’s memories of his performances when he was invited by an elderly woman living in a remote region to perform a tazieh at her house for her and her husband, neither of whom had seen a tazieh performance previously. 

Fayyaz said that he plays the role of Shimr, and the elderly man begins to quarrel with his wife as to why she invited him. Fayyaz then has to leave the house and spends the night in a mosque.

Manijeh Davari, Hamid Madankan and Amir Azadrusta are acting in the play.

Source: Tehran Times