Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Persian Quarter

This evening, I watched The Persian Quarter put on by the Salt Lake Acting Company. It was pretty good.

I was not all that impresses with the first act -- an American guy and gal engaged in new boyfriend/girlfriend (Mike/Ann) conversation inside an American compound in Tehran in 1979. Ann, despite the fact she is living in Iran, could not handle being told how to live, dress and act by the virtue and vice police. Turns out Ann is a CIA informant posing as an English teacher. Mike was living in Iran for the experience; he understood the Persians.

It picked up in the next act when they became two of the 52 hostages taken by the "revolutionaries" during the Iranian Revolution. The dialog between Ann and her captor/guard, Shirin, is engaging. The two young females cannot relate to one another, one not understanding why she was held for 444 days and the other thinking that the revolution would result in a Persian utopia.

Fast forward to the present and the daughters of those two (Emily/Azadeh) meet accidentally in New York at Columbia University during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit in 2009. The two modern girls cannot relate to one another, but seem to respect one another in the end.

Meshed throughout is Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, the 13th century Iranian poet. Both Iranian mother and daughter see life through Rumi's poems.

The author, Kathleen Cahill, does a good job showing how two very different women and their daughters, thirty years apart, see the world so differently. But at the same time, realize there are many things in common.

Both actresses performed admirably. The arguments they had with one another were so engaging. Those issues between America and Iran are still there today. Americans and Iranians still do not relate to one another. America is so new; Persia is so old. The cultures are so different. Regardless, there are things we can learn from one another if given a chance.

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