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BBC special series: Iranian performing arts


A unique 22-part series narrated by the distinguished photographer and film maker, Shahrokh Golestan, begins on BBC World Service next month and will mark the 60th anniversary of the Persian service.

The series, Performing Arts of Iran, celebrates Iran's enduring cultural identity and tells the story of the country's resilient dramatic art - from the passion plays and fertility rites of ancient Persia which are still captivating Iranians in towns and villages today, to comic improvisation, traditional dances, operettas and experimental and modern Iranian theatre.

Central to the series is a feature about the ta'zia, or passion play. Golestan charts the evolution of one of the Islamic world's most powerful dramas from its beginning in the mythologies of ancient Iran to its present evocative and popular religious form played out in Iran by leading drama singers and actors.

"He has taken a new and comprehensive look at the many streams which flow into the river of Iranian dramatic performance. These unique programmes are an event in Persian broadcasting and could not have been made in Iran today, " says Farrokh Gaffari, a leading Islamic art scholar in Paris

Golestan spent more than two years researching the Iranian performing arts before recording the series in London. His programmes contain the voices of more than 80 Iranian artists and many of the singers, musicians and actors have performed especially for the series. He has searched painstakingly in the BBC's archives and private archives throughout the world for recordings of performers and art scholars in Iran and has found the voices of performers rarely heard before.

As well as conveying all the emotional resonance of the ta'zia in the programmes, Golestan explores many other aspects of Iran's rich cultural identity; erotic women-only dancers and their special language of intimacy, the powerful tradition of story telling and experimental theatre.

This series, Performing Arts in Iran, begins on the Persian Service on Friday, 3 November at 1505 GMT and then every Friday. The Persian service can be heard in the UK on short wave on 6195 kHz in the 49 metre band. The Performing Arts of Iran can also be heard online at

Basera Asir
Website & Radio production Assistant
Persian Section
BBC World Service
Tel: 0044(0) 207 557 2673


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