Iranian Theater Manager, Director Detained After Release of Play Teaser

City Theater, Tehran, Iran

Saeed Asadi, the manager of the City Theater of Tehran, and Maryam Kazemi, the director of a musical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” have been arrested by security agents after releasing a promotional teaser which contained a song by the iconic Iranian singer Farrokhdokht Abbasi Taqani, better known by her stage name Pooran (1934-1990).


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Pooran (1934-1990)

The play had been well received by audiences at the International Puppet Festival (Tehran-Mobarak) and the City Theater of Tehran. It was only banned after the promotional materials appeared on social media. The short video consists of a few scenes from the play and one of Pooran’s songs.


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Saeed Asadi (L) Maryam Kazemi(R)

The authorities summoned Mr. Asadi and Ms. Kazemi for questioning, but the investigation lasted longer than anticipated, which is why the two were detained, ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency) reported, quoting Shahram Karami, the director of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance’s Department Of Performing Arts.

Mr. Karami had allowed the release of the play, so he fears that he could also be summoned if the case goes to trial.

“The Judiciary has certain legal responsibilities, and we must follow the law,” Karami explained.

Many in the creative community have been outraged by Kazemi and Asadi’s arrests.

Saber Abbar, a stage and film actor, tweeted: “You’ve arrested Maryam Kazemi and Saeed Asadi for publishing promotional material for their play. You’ve even set bail for their release. How can you behave like this? Why do you harass us? These are challenging times for everyone. Enough is enough. Summon those who are responsible for the current despair and unhappiness in the city.”


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Musical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Source: Kayhan London

Shahram Gilabadi, the managing director of the Iranian Theater Forum, said his office would push for the release of Asadi and Kazemi. Mr. Gilabadi explained: “The board of directors will hold a special meeting today to decide how to proceed in this matter.”


Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi