Theatre-maker Yaser Khaseb: "Theatre climate in Iran is blossoming"

january 2008 -

Dim light shines on a miraculously folded male body. It takes a while to figure out exactly how it's done. The opening scene of Mysterious Gift, a solo performance by Iranian theatre-maker Yaser Khaseb, is reminiscent of the Dutch mime performer Boukje Schweigman. A bit later, Khaseb is dancing and playing with a doll that is half his size. His playing is controlled, sometimes funny and also tender. "When I was a child I realised that every person has his or her own inner world that is virtually inaccessible to others. That is what I want to show," says Khaseb after his performance is concluded.

He comes from an artistic family and learned his acting and mime skills at the University of Tonkabon, a city in northern Iran. His work is a mixture of dance, mime and puppetry. He won various awards in Iran with Mysterious Gift. "Our theatre climate is modest, but it is blossoming. Globalisation and modernisation seem to have increased the need for self-expression, particularly among young people. I am employed as a radio producer. The idea of earning a living from my theatrical work in Iran seems utopic. However, a number of theatre companies have come into being in the past twenty years that are totally professional thanks to sponsor funding."

Extremely modest Khaseb performed for the first time in a foreign country at the Dancing on the Edge festival (12-19 December 2007). "A fantastic experience. I am meeting colleagues from neighbouring countries with whom I can share experience. And it is incredibly fine to perform for so many interested people here. I have now been invited to perform at a festival in Germany. I am considering the possibilities for furthering my career abroad. I do not know where yet. It doesn't really matter, as long as I can learn and perform."

The festival Dancing on the Edge received support from organisations including Hivos-NCDO Culture Fund, DOEN Foundation and the Dutch Ministries of Education, Culture & Science and Foreign Affairs.