About the Grant

$25,000 to develop a production of Shakespeare's Richard III in the Ta'ziyeh style of Iran (MAP 2009), directed by Mohammad Ghaffari. Incorporating artistic forms from pre-Islamic Persia, Ta'ziyeh (or “mourning”) is one of the world's great theatrical traditions, employing horses, a circular stage, musicians, singing, and swordplay.

About the Project

Shakespeare is not a theater of recitation, nor is it a theater of illustration, but rather a theater of action. Though Ta’ziyeh plays often tell the story of Imam Hossein, Ta'ziyeh is not necessarily a theater of religious devotion, nor is it a primitive static theater. Rather it is a highly sophisticated and constantly evolving theatrical form. In using the form and spirit of Ta'ziyeh theater with William Shakespeare’s Richard III, Director Mohammad Ghaffari is seeking to realize the theater of action that is at the core of Shakespeare's plays and Ta'ziyeh's form.

The essence of Ta’ziyeh is the immediacy of communication through form. It's a form that's at once ancient, organic, contemporary and avant-guard. In the end, however, Ta’ziyeh is not a container and Shakespeare’s play is not liquid whereby just by pouring the liquid into the container, the job would be done. The project will investigate ways in which these two great theatrical traditions can speak to and through each other.

Director Mohammad Ghaffari has a long-standing involvement with Ta’ziyeh. Since 1991 he has presented traditional Ta’ziyeh plays at the Avignon Festival, the Festival d'Automne a Paris, Festival Parma in Italy and the Lincoln Center Summer Festival.

Related Websites

Institute for Intercultural Studies

Mohammad Ghaffari


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