Tehran staging of ‘Galileo’ reflects a nation’s struggle against ‘ignorance,’ ‘ancientness’

Will the truth triumph over superstition and dogma?

That was the question hovering in a Tehran theater Sunday afternoon as 14 men and women in black clothes circled around the astronomer Galileo Galilei in director Dariush Farhang’s sometimes nightmarish, politically loaded rendition of the 1943 play “The Life of Galileo” by German playwright Bertolt Brecht.

The Italian astrologer was forced to renounce his scientific conclusion that the Earth circled the sun because his work conflicted with church doctrine.

Among those surrounding the scientist on the darkened stage during the nightmare sequence are members of an inquisition committee that is a premonition of a catastrophe for the scientist and mathematician who tried to get people to look at the heavens with their own eyes, and not through the prism of faith.

A guillotine stands in the right corner of the stage at the City Theater.

Twice it is used, once during the nightmare sequence and at the end of the play when Galileo is forced to renounce his scientific findings in a show trial.

The parallels between Galileo’s fate at the hands of Catholic priests and Iran’s post-election political crisis are uncanny.

Farhang, a longtime actor and director, said in an interview that he reinterpreted the play to draw “a contrast between logic and ignorance, modernity and ancientness” for the annual Fajr festival, a cultural event preceding the Feb. 11 anniversary of the Islamic Re… >>>

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