Mysterious Gifts: Theatre of Iran

Iranian performer Yaser Khaseb will mesmerize you with his storytelling. Part dance, part performance art, all compelling—he invites us into his culture and we see how universal the human experience truly is; take this opportunity to connect our stories. Khaseb has crafted a show devised of several movement-based pieces, making the language barrier inconsequential. He begins with a look at traditional Persian performance, offering insight into a people with a rich history and encouraging the audience to find human connection through the act of pure physical storytelling. Khaseb continues with a piece that explores the imaginative spirit in a modern context, using breathtaking puppetry to show us his battle with the self, and how easy it can be to lose that battle. Khaseb then moves outside of time to delve into the primal nature of creativity itself.

 SCT Artistic Director Hartzell says, “Mr. Khaseb is more than a performance artist; he is a kinesthetic storyteller, blending theatricality and movement to enliven universal stories of the human condition. Moreover, he brings a distinctly Persian perspective and aesthetic, allowing our children not only to see a different cultural viewpoint, but also how similar all of humanity truly is.”

Hartzell is excited by the potential of Connecting Stories. “Connecting Stories isn’t about politics,” says Hartzell. “We chose to travel to Iran and work with Iranian artists because Iran has the most sophisticated theatre tradition in the Middle East. Connecting Stories is about forging personal relationships that reach across national and cultural boundaries and transforming the stories we tell about ourselves and our world.”

Working with theatre artists from Iran and Holland, we are embarking on a special multi-year, cross-cultural exchange—Connecting Stories. It is a rare opportunity for us in the Pacific Northwest to see an authentic piece of theatre art from Iran. Performance artist Yaser Khaseb has crafted a show devised of several movement-based pieces, making the language barrier inconsequential, that give us entry into his world.  

We begin our journey with a look at traditional Persian performance. With this view of a people with a rich history, often overshadowed by modern prejudices, we begin to see our human connection through the act of pure physical storytelling.

Yaser continues his exploration of visceral storytelling using the body to express the imaginative spirit in a modern context. With breathtaking puppetry, he shows us his battle with the self, and we see how easy it can be to lose that battle. You find yourself sitting forward, heart pounding to the beat of the music, breathless, able to feel yourself yearning and reaching as Yaser does. The energy is vibrant and palpable—emotion distilled into form and shape.

Next, Yaser moves us into a place outside of time—it could be past, present, or future. And we delve into the primal nature of creativity itself. As we watch a performer explore his surroundings, we are allowed to venture inward. Through physically manipulating another performer’s body he turns mud into life, and we gain insight to the very core of what shapes creativity. This completely timeless and universal force that binds us all is made tangible and human.

A performance that takes us through time and into ourselves with a force and vitality that will set your imagination buzzing, this is a day at the theatre that will stay with you forever.

Born in Behshahr, Khaseb studied theatre at Tonekabon University in Tonekabon, Iran. He has been active in the Iranian art scene for years, and has won awards and performed at festivals and theatres around the world. Some of his work includes Birth to Death, for which he won best actor and best performance awards, and Creation, which won best performance group, both at the Boshehr Pantomime Festival; Mud, which he performed at the Fadjr Festival in Tehran; and Mysterious Gift, which won an audience choice award at the Mobarak Popet International Festival in Tehran. He is currently pursuing his M.A. in theatre direction at Azad University of Iran.

Khaseb conceived and will direct Mysterious Gifts, and also designed the sets and costumes. SCT Production Manager Michael Wellborn will act as Lighting Designer and SCT Resident Sound Designer Chris R. Walker will work on sound design. Travelling with Khaseb will be company members Hamid Etemedi Todeshki and Shimah Khaseb.

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