Today it has been announced that the Royal Court Theatre will present a night of readings from Iranian playwrights on Friday 2 December. Sokhan Begoo / Speak Up: A night of readings amplifying the voices of contemporary Iran will also include a panel discussion amplifying the diversity of voices that exist within this community. The night will be curated by theatre-makers Sepy Baghaei and Diyan Zora and presented in collaboration with the Royal Court.
On September 16th 2022, the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Jina Amini at the hands of Iran’s ‘morality police’ sparked mass protests across the nation. Two months on, and despite widespread internet blackouts, the world has been gripped by the footage coming out of Iran: a woman-led counter-revolution, where Iranians have turned out in their thousands to speak up and demand freedom.
The evening will feature two newly-commissioned pieces alongside extracts from existing plays. Writers include Sanaz Toossi, Jasmin Mandi-Ghomi and Sepy Baghaei, with more to be announced. The works will amplify unheard voices from within Iran and the diaspora.
Sepy Baghaei and Diyan Zora said: “As we both took in the footage coming out of Iran during the recent protests, we were struck by a common request that kept appearing in the social media posts of the brave Iranians risking their lives: to be their voice. So, we thought about the many different voices that exist in Iran, voices which we perhaps hadn’t heard as much in the media: women, ethnic minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community, for instance. For Sokhan Begoo, we’ve brought together a diverse lineup of Iranian playwrights, both in Iran and the diaspora, whose work addresses bold and challenging themes – from the subjugation of women and queer people, to the West’s involvement in the Islamic Revolution, to the risks taken by Iranian artists to reclaim freedom of expression.
Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director, Royal Court Theatre said: “When Diyan and Sepy approached us with this project, it spoke to so many of the conversations that have been happening amongst our team at the Royal Court about how we might reflect and amplify the brave and extraordinary activists leading the protest movement in Iran. The programme they are assembling reflects a diversity of voices from inside Iran and across the Iranian diaspora. We're honoured to welcome an audience to hear newly commissioned work and existing texts that offer us perspectives on a revolutionary movement, led by women and which can be heard across the world.”
The ticket price for this event will go towards covering the fees of the artists involved.
Diyan Zora is a British Iraqi theatre director and writer based in London. As winner of the 2021 Genesis Future Directors Award, Diyan directed Klippies by Jessica Sian at the Young Vic Theatre. She is a member of the Bush Theatre's 2022 Emerging Writer's Group.
Sepy Baghaei is a theatre director of Iranian heritage. She was born and raised in Australia, where her parents resettled as refugees in the early 90s. Sepy originally trained as an actor, before moving to the UK to pursue a career as a director.