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Book details
  • Genre:DRAMA
  • SubGenre:Middle Eastern
  • Language:Persian
  • Series title:Theater, Morality and Enlightenment
  • Series Number:1
  • Pages:482
  • Paperback ISBN:9781667865164

Theater, Morality and Enlightenment - Vol. 1

Ali Nasr and Playwriting

by Fereshteh Kowssar

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Ali Nasr is known by many as 'The Father of Iranian Theatre'. "Theater, Morality and Enlightenment" contains an extensive introduction based on his original memoir, as well as 24 plays he either wrote or adapted.
Based on Sayyid Ali Nasr's (1895- 1961) memoirs and plays, the author has written an extensive introduction to this two-volume collection of Nasr's original and adapted plays. Ali Nasr was, and still is, known by many as "The Father of Iranian Theatre" (Perdar e Teatr e Iran). He was the founder of the first Drama School in Iran (Honarestan e Honarpishegi). Nasr believed that drama was the best tool for advancement and enlightenment of the society. He was particularly fond of the French classic playwrights such as Moliere. During Reza Shah period he held many official responsibilities including the head of theatre section of the Organization for Intellectual Development (Sazman e Parvaresh e Afkar) established by Reza Shah. These two volumes (Vol. 1 in 482 pages and Vol. 2 in 477 pages) contain 24 of his plays which represent his ideology as well as his style of writing, translating and adaptation of foreign plays as well as some documents and personal and professional pictures.
About the author
Fereshteh Kowssar, an author and educator, taught Persian at Yale before her retirement. She has published three books both in the US and Iran, one of which, Bidad e Sokoot (Outrage of Silence), received an award from Isfahan Literary Competition in 2005. She is a grandchild of Sayyid Ali Nasr.

Book Reviews

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Great book about the art of theatre in Iran I recently came across a two volume book entitled “Theater, Morality and Enlightenment: Ali Nasr and Playwriting”, edited and published by Fereshteh Kowssar. I should first write about the introduction that can easily be a book to itself. Fereshteh Kowssar, whom I knew through some other writings of her, has managed to use her sincere prose to show who her grandfather, Sayyid Ali Nasr was. She narrates his life with such objectiveness that the reader, at times, forgets their close family relationship. Basing the introduction on her grandfather’s autobiography, and assisted by her precise writing, the author provides the most accurate account of Mr. Nasr’s life. It should be noted that Ms Kowssar is an accomplished author herself and her book “Bidad-e Sokout” (Outrage of Silence) has already won the Isfahan Book Award. In “Theater, Morality and Enlightenment”, we get to know a person who has taken the most important steps in the creation of modern Iranian theater. We learn that Ali Nasr established the first acting academy in Iran and founded the first theater in the style of modern theaters of today. He valued theater and its role in enlightenment of the public. In a very short time, he trained actors and actresses who are among the best in Iranian theater and cinema. Actors such as Naghshineh, Mohammad Ali Keshavarz, Badri Hourfar, Parkhideh, Garmsiri, Darioush Assadzadeh, Majid Mohseni, Mohammad Ali Jafari, Sadeegh Bahrami, Haydeh and Mecedeh Bayegan were either collaborators with Nasr or the students of his academy. Reading the plays we see how Nasr used both comedy and drama to elevate culture and knowledge in the society of his time. Plays such as “Ghoozi”, “Zuzanab Newspaper”, “Nothing will change so long as we remain the same” are best examples of his social concern. I believe this book is beneficial for researchers of theater, and the younger generation who love performing arts. Read more
Teater, Morality and Enlightenment I had read three books by Fereshteh Kowssar and always enjoyed her eloquent prose. This time, she impressed me by writing a scholarly book of nonfiction on Iranian drama based on, her grandfather, Ali Nasr’s memoir and collections of his plays. Basing her introduction on Nasr’s autobiography as well as books on him, she gives an account of Nasr’s life and how he became interested in theater from age 14. Reading the book, we learn how Nasr founded the first drama school in Tehran and how he established Tamashakhaneh Tehran which later and after his passing was named Nasr Theater and now it is destined to become The Iranian Museum of Theater. Reading the plays, we become familiar with his great sense of humor and realize how well he adapted French plays by using his strong prose. As Kowssar shows, his adaptations are so facile that makes it difficult for the reader to distinguish if the play is one of the playwright’s original or mere translation. By using Persian expressions and Persianized characters and strong satyr, Nasr has transformed playwriting into a tool for educating people. For him, theater functioned as a school for teaching morality. In his plays, he tries to show the problems of superstition and illiteracy that dominated the society of his time. Overcoming ignorance and prejudice seem to be his main goals in writing. He pays attention to women’s issues in the family and in many plays he finds men responsible for these problems. This collection is of value, not only for students of history and drama of Iran but also for Persian speakers who are interested in Persian prose of the 30s. Read more