January 20, 2020
Two prominent Italian stage directors have decided not to participate in the Islamic Republic’s annual Fajr Theater Festival, after Iranian artists urged them to stay away.
The organizers of the 38th Fajr Festival confirmed Sunday, January 19, that the theater companies of Italian stage directors Eugenio Barba and Romeo Castellucci have “postponed” all programs arranged for the festival.
The organizers have given no reason for what they described as a “postponement.”
Fajr festival is scheduled to run from January 30 to February 9 in Tehran, celebrating the triumphant return of the elderly leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran in 1979.
Earlier last December, a group of prominent exiled Iranian writers, poets, playwrights, and actors had asked Barba and Castellucci to stay away from the Islamic Republic’s official festival, in the aftermath of widespread protests, during which up to 1,500 people were shot to death by security forces.
“Cancel your trip to Tehran and support the bereaved people of Iran who are still struggling to achieve their rights,” the signatories to the letter had cautioned Italian stage directors.
Eugenio Barba, 83, is an Italian author and stage director based in Denmark. He is the founder of the Odin Theater and the International School of Theater Anthropology, both located in Holstebro, Denmark.
Romeo Castellucci, 59, is an Italian theater director, playwright, artist, and designer. Since the 1980s, he has been one part of the European theatrical avant-garde.
The image of the two shined on the poster of the eighth Fajr Theater Festival, while the name of Eugenio Barba, is misspelled in Persian.
Meanwhile, dozens of Iranian artists have also withdrawn from the Fajr film and theater festivals to express their sympathy with the families of the victims killed in a Ukraine Airlines passenger plane that was downed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps anti-air missile(s), on January 8, outside Tehran’s Imam Khomeini international airport.