‘Uncle Vanya’ joins ‘The Seagull’ in Iranian history on stage in Tehran

TEHRAN – Iranian writer Arman Tayaran has mixed “Uncle Vanya” and “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov and an Iranian story, which is currently on stage at Sangalaj Hall in Tehran.

The piece titled “Uncle Vanya’s Seagull” is performed in the form of kheimeh shab-bazi, a style of traditional Iranian puppets.

It shows that Chekhov is planning to travel to Iran in search of the seagull, which arrived in the country earlier.

Hossein Heidaripur is the director of the play and Hossein Mohammadi, Mehdi Alinejad, Hamed Sheikhi, Hossein Karami, Mahshid Gudarzi, Reza Hosseinnejad, Bahareh Jahanbani and several other puppeteers collaborate on it.

A musical ensemble composed of singer Amir-Hossein Ensafi and tar player Hossein Asadi, tonbak player Negin Mortazavi and kamancheh virtuoso Ali Jabbari also accompanies the troupe.

The play premiered last Thursday with a tribute to Ezzatollah Mehravaran, a prominent Iranian stage and film actor who died from COVID-19 in October.

“Uncle Vanya” depicts the visit of an elderly professor and his glamorous and much younger second wife, Yelena, to the rural estate that supports their urban way of life.

Two friends, Vanya, brother of the professor’s late first wife, who ran the estate for a long time, and Astrov, the local doctor, both fall in love with Yelena, while lamenting the boredom of their provincial existence.

Sonya, the professor’s daughter by his first wife, who worked with Vanya to maintain the estate, suffers from her unrequited feelings for Astrov.

The case is rushed when the professor announces his intention to sell the estate, the house of Vanya and Sonya, with the aim of investing the proceeds of the sale to obtain a higher income for himself and his wife.

In “The Seagull”, the main characters, all artists, are the guests of a country house. This is Mrs. Arkadina, a middle-aged actress; her lover, Trigorin, a successful writer; his son Konstantin, writer; and Nina, a young aspiring actress whom Konstantin loves.

Mrs. Arkadina, jealous of Nina’s youth and promising career, acts with cruelty and hatred towards Konstantin, belittling her new play and denying the approval he desperately seeks from her.

Nina, awed by Trigorin’s fame, ignores Konstantin, who kills a seagull and shows it to her, perhaps symbolically referring to her shattered dreams. All four go their separate ways, but two years later they are reunited in the same field. When Nina rejects Konstantin again, he destroys his writings and commits suicide while his unconscious mother plays cards in another room.

“The Seagull”, which is widely regarded as the first of Chekhov’s four major plays, and “Uncle Vanya” were performed by many Iranian troupes.

Photo: A scene from the premiere of the play “Uncle Vanya’s Seagull” at Sangelaj Hall in Tehran on November 4, 2021. (Theater.ir)


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