Legend has it that on the night of his encounter with Tahmineh, Rostam gave Tahmineh a stone and told her that if her child were a girl to adorn her headband with this stone and if it were a son, to adorn his armband with it.
Mohreye Sorkh or the “Scarlet Stone” was my father – Siavash Kasrai’s last epic poem and one that is less known to Iranians than his first one – Arash Kamangir. He wrote this poem in the darkest days of his bitter separation from the country he loved most- Iran.
As harsh as it was, it is this separation however that gave him the perspective needed to ponder upon the meaning of his own aspirations and inspirations; the strength needed to analyze his generation, its heroism and its heights as well as its shortcomings and failures. He learned the hard way that replacing one’s wisdom with one’s youthful infatuation could be dangerous and lead to treacherous paths.
Arash was the tale of a young hero who gave his life at the height of his youth to preserve the boundaries of his country. Mohreye Sorkh is the life lessons of a mature thinker who bares himself in front of the mirror to give courage to others to do the same. In Mohreye Sorkh, there are no heroes and saviors. We are all heroes in charge of saving our own lives and humanity as a result.
In the opening scene of Mohreye Sorkh, the young Sohrab is lying in his own blood, agonizing and waiting for Rostam to bring the “noush daroo”- the cure. In his agony, a plethora of characters come to his mind and he holds a dialog with each one of them.
First is his mother, Tahmineh who retells him the story of her short romance with Rostam… then comes Gordafarid, the “unnecessary lover” whom he met for such a fleeting moment and who vanished… then Rostam the father who fails in recognizing the son despite so many signs… Finally from afar comes the Hakim- Ferdowsi himself- the one whose pen shaped the Book of Kings. Sohrab starts to question his wisdom: “why o why you the wisest of men would you allow yourself to write about a father who kills his son?” many have asked this question over the centuries but Kasrai’s answer is something that makes you ponder many layers of our cultural heritage, background and baggage and one that is very germane to what is going on in today’s Iran and the Middle East. I won’t give you the answer because there isn’t one for all, so I encourage you to read this poem or come and see it if you are in San Diego (Nov. 19) or Los Angeles (Dec 10 and 11).
The cast that the director Shahrokh Yadegari of UCSD has gathered to present this work is unique and one that we as a community should be very proud of. He has gathered a multi-generational cast of the best of the best that the Iranian Diaspora has to offer.
Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam is not only the choreographer but he also plays a tragic Sohrab. Afshin Mofid, the son of Bijan Mofid and a former star of the NY ballet plays Rostam. For the first time, a woman is playing the role of Ferdowsi and this woman happens to be the first female Shahnameh Storyteller- Gordafarid.
Our community will witness the premiere of a young yet powerful modern dancer in a Persian play and that dancer is no other than Ida Saki. Miriam Peretz who is not of Persian decent is rendering the most sensual Tahmineh you have ever seen on stage.
Kasrai is not with us to see these young people who weren’t even in their cradles when he wrote Arash, but the “poet of Hope” had no doubt that this day will come because he had faith in the youth of his beloved Iran. Great poets don’t need advocates, publicists, and promoters as the meaning of their sacred message is safeguarded in the heart of their nation.