TEHRAN — Bulgarian theater director Elena Panayotova has hailed the efforts made by Persian poet Ferdowsi more than a millennium ago to protect Persian from the threats of foreign languages.
She is in Tehran to stage her latest production “Shahnameh: A Zal Story” based on a story from Ferdowsi Shahnameh’s magnum opus at the 40th Fajr International Theater Festival.
“We know that the Shahnameh has produced abundant literature that is appealing to humanity,” she said in a press release issued Thursday by the organizers of the Fajr theater festival.
“I studied the life, death and masterpiece of Ferdowsi, and gradually came to understand that it was his Shahnameh who successfully maintained the Persian language, and the Persian language would have been ruined if the masterpiece had not been created,” she said. Noted.
She called Persian a wonderful language through which many stories were created which are still fascinating after more than a millennium.
Panayotova said she has directed many plays of classic Western literature over her 30-year career. However, she noted that plays and plots from Eastern literature still appealed to her.
UNESCO’s decision to put the Shahnameh millennium on its 2010 calendar of events inspired Panayotova to learn more about the Persian epic Shahnameh.
As a result, she found stories from the book interesting to present to audiences from other cultures.
Tehran’s Sangalaj Theater hosted Panayotova’s troupe performing “Shahnameh: A Story of Zal”.
The play tells the mythical story of Zal, a son who was born to King Sam but whose baby has hair as white as snow. Sam thinks his son is either an old man or a demon and orders the baby to be taken to the foothills of the Alborz Mountains and left there.
Zal is found by the magical Simorgh, the phoenix-like bird with red and golden feathers that has its nest atop the mountain. She carries the baby in her nest and raises him as her own.
Years later, King Sam recalls in a haunting dream how badly he behaved towards his son. Sam feels remorse and heads to the Alborz Mountains to see if his son might still be alive.
He finds his son a handsome young adult man, well brought up by the bird. Zal does not want to leave the Simorgh, but she gives him one of her feathers and tells him that if he gets in trouble he must burn the feather and she will come to his aid.
He is reinstated as Iranian ruler and falls in love with the Arabian princess Rudabeh, who marries Iran’s greatest hero.
Photo: Bulgarian director Elena Panayotova’s troupe performs ‘Shahnameh: A Story of Zal’ during the 40th Fajr International Theater Festival at Sangalaj Theater in Tehran on February 6, 2022.