Session 34: Uninvited Guest - Undiscovered History of Persian Theatre in Qajar Period

Guest Speaker

Duman Riazi

Postdoc in History of Theatre, University of Toronto

Date and Time

November 5th, 2023

3 pm to 5 pm (ET)

9 pm to 11 pm (CEST)


Theatre in Persia has long been one of the main artistic forms that brought about criticism along with other arts, which has reached to the present day. Ancient Persia was influenced by the monotheistic religions of Zoroastrianism and Islam. The show forms in Persia, and therefore, suffers from a confusion in which the incarnation of gods is eliminated. For this reason, in comparison with its Indian and Greek play forms, Persian Theatre reached its lowest point. However, among all these constraints, the religious and non-religious ceremonies were, in fact, a set of circumstances for developing the Persian play forms. There were a variety of rituals for rainfall plea and blessing on a yearly basis, which became a golden opportunity for the evolution of theatrical performance in Persia. Such progress in Persian play forms started in ancient Persia and continued up to the end of the Sassanid dynasty.

In this presentation, my goal is to analyze in detail the factors affecting the updating of the Persian play in the Qajar period sourcing the documents available inside and outside Iran. The reference sources are from both Iranian and European archives and Documentation Centers. I will examine the play relations and effects between Iran and the West. In the end, I will evaluate the similarities and differences between two important forms of theatre, the Italian Commedia dell’ arte and the Iranian comedy (Takhte-Hozi), followed by their interactions. 

Speaker’s Biography

Duman Riyazi is a director and researcher in the field of theatre. His research interests include artefacts and manuscript documents of the commedia dell'arte, Renaissance Theatre, theatrical relationship between East and West, the history of Persian theatre and Persian comedy. He has written numerous articles on La commedia dell'arte and the modernization of Persian theatre. His publications also include translations of several plays by Carlo Goldoni and commedia dell'arte plays by Siro Ferrone. Since 2012, he has initiated numerous conferences and workshops on the inspiration of European theatre forms by Middle Eastern theatre forms, especially Persian theatre forms.