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Iranian Performance Traditions

Series: Bibliotheca Iranica: Performing Arts Series 9
Availability: In stock
Published: 2011
Page #: ix + 320
Size: 6 x 9
ISBN: 1-56859-216-7, ISBN 13: 978-1568592169
bibliography, glossary, index, notes

 
$45.00

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Quick Overview

In this book anthropologist William O. Beeman presents the rich tapestry of Iranian traditional performance traditions—traditions that have cultural roots dating many centuries before Western contact.

Readers who are unfamiliar with Iranian culture may be surprised to discover that Iran has any significant performance traditions at all. In fact, as readers will discover, Iranian performance traditions strike deep to the roots of Iranian culture, and reveal truths about Iran that are profound and fascinating.

These performance traditions, including the epic drama, ta’ziyeh and the comic improvisatory ruhozi, have continued down to the present. They are aesthetically complex, subtle and uniquely reflective of Iranian culture and thought, enriching all Iranian cultural expression, including literature, art, architecture and film.
In the years since the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79, some people have worried that these traditions, which have been a venerable part of Iranian life for many centuries may disappear. Though there has been a reduction of traditional performance in some areas, much has still remained under the Islamic Republic.

These performance traditions remain an exceptionally powerful part of Iranian life. Even highly Westernized individuals appreciate them and watch them regularly. They remain an essential part of Iranian cultural heritage, and a key element in Iranian identity. Moreover, their strength extends to the rest of the “Persianate” world in Iraq, Afghanistan, Central Asia and beyond. They also affect the Shi’a world in Arab speaking regions such as Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, India and Pakistan.

Professor Beeman shows the close association between the symbolism and structure of these performance forms with Iranian core culture. He argues in anthropological terms that this close association remains one of the most important reasons these traditions should be studied and revered. He also maintains that Iranian performance constitutes an assemblage of profoundly important aesthetic institutions worthy of the most elevated attention among the cultural expressions of the world.

ven for those who do not have a primary interest in Iran, this book will reveal a fascinating world of performative art that has engaged and inspired all who have experienced it.

author

William O. Beeman

William O. Beeman (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota. He formerly taught at Brown University for more than 30 years where he was Professor of Anthropology; Theatre, Speech and Dance; and Director of Middle East Studies. A linguistic anthropologist, he specializes in discourse analysis and performance studies. His research has centered on the Middle East, particularly Iran; Japan, South Asia and Europe, where he performed as an opera singer in Germany. Among his publications are “Language, Status and Power in Iran”; “Culture, Performance and Communication in Iran” ; “The ‘Great Satan’vs. the ‘Mad Mullas’”: “How the United States and Iran Demonize Each Other”; and “The Third Line: The Opera Performer as Interpreter”, which he wrote with opera stage director, Daniel Helfgot.

Preface and acknowledgments
Chapter 1: PERFORMANCE—A KEY TO UNDERSTANDING CULTURE
Performance Theory, Anthropology and Cultural Understanding.
The Ethnography of Iranian Performance.
Discovering Objects and Settings.
Analyzing Iranian Performance.
Seeing Regularities and Patterns.
Analyzing Positively and Negatively Valued Performance Activity.
Understanding the Big Picture.
Cultural Performances and Social Meaning.
Drama and Social Drama—Special Forms of Cultural Performance.
Seeing What Performance Can Do.
Conclusion—What Cultural Analysts Gain in the Study of Performance.
References

Chapter 2: IRANIAN THEATRE—ROOTED IN TRADITION
The Ancient Past.
From Alexander to the Moghul Empires.
Traditional Theatre from the 16th to 19th Centuries.
Puppet Drama.
Narrative forms
Ta’ziyeh.
Comic Improvisatory Theatre.
The Advent of Western Theatre.
Popular Theatre in the 20th Century.
Religious Epic Theatre.
The 20th-century Rise of National Theatres.
References

Chapter 3: SOURCES OF MEANING IN IRANIAN FOLK CULTURE
Folk Customs and Ritual—the Basis for Traditional Performance.
Music and Poetry in Everyday Life.
Communion with Nature.
Socializing as a Meaningful Activity.
Urban Entertainments.
Symbolism in Traditional Celebrations.
References

Chapter 4. DYNAMICS AND CHANGE IN MUSICAL PERFORMANCE
The Integration of Musical Tradition.
Dimensions of Contrast in Iranian Music.
Changes in Urban and Rural Music Traditions.
Ideological Sources of Change.
Music and Islam.
Music, Qur’an and Hadith.
Accommodating Islamic Tradition—Minority Communities.
Ta’ziyeh as an “Approved” Form of Performance.
The Classical Sub-stratum.
Fringe Regions.
Music, Change and Conflict.
The More Things Change.
REFERENCES

Chapter 5. TA’ZIYEH AND RU-HOZI: SYMBOLIC EXPRESSION IN POPULAR PERFORMANCE.
Iranian Performance Traditions: Vital Social Institutions.
Ta’ziyeh.
Ru-hozi.
Traditional Performance as Symbolic Communication.
REFERENCES

Chapter 6. SYMBOLIC CONVENTIONS IN PERFORMANCE 1:THE LOGIC OF REPRESENTATION IN TA’ZIYEH
Performance and the Logic of Culture.
Ta’ziyeh as a Performance Genre.
Representation in Ta’ziyeh.
The Meaning of Representational Conventions in ta’ziyeh.
Actor Styles and Actor Training.
A Profession Noble and Ignoble.
Skill Sets.
Actor Education.
Exercises.
Horses.
History of Styles.
Rehearsals.
The Evolution of Ta’ziyeh Acting Styles.
REFERENCES

Chapter 7. THE DYNAMICS OF HUMOR IN RU-HOZI COMEDY
Performance and Its Effects.
Performer Interaction: Message Production.
Performer-Spectator Interaction: Message Reception.
Improvisatory Performance and Iranian Culture: Message Interpretation.
Conclusion: Interaction in Performance.
References

Chapter 8. PERFORMING RELIGIOUS ROLES: ACCOMPLISHING THE SACRED
The Scapegoat: Periodic, Occasional, Venerated, Scorned.
Scapegoating in Iranian Folk Performance.
Imam Hossein--Sacred Scapegoat as an Ideal Type.
Omar—The Ideal Scourged Scapegoat.
Seasonal Scapegoating.
Performance Again.
References

Chapter 9. PERFORMING ROLES IN IRANIAN THEATRE: ACCOMPLISHING IDENTITY THROUGH PERFORMATIVE SYMBOLS
Demonstrating What You Are.
The mimetic function.
Theatrical Representation in Iranian Theater.
Forms of Performance in Iran.
The Representation of Women.
Cultural and Dramatic Functions of Female Representation.
Mimesis in Traditional Theater.
The Non-arbitrary Symbol of Iranian Womanhood.
References

Chapter 10. PERFORMING COMEDY IN THE COMIC TRADITIONS OF ASIA.
Humor
The Effects of Comic performance.
The Functions of Comic Performance.
A Unified Tradition.
Troupe Composition.
Occasions for Performance.
The Forms.
Levels of Interaction and the Clown.
REFERENCES

CHAPTER 11. THE MASS MEDIA AND THE REVOLUTION—BEFORE AND AFTER
The New Medium—Tape Cassettes.
International Broadcast Media.
Torture, Film and Television.
The Search for Cultural Purity.
Torture, Television, and Iran’s Interaction with the West.
Media and Performing arts in Iran—A Shifting Cultural Role.
REFERENCES

Illustrations.
Bibliography.
Index.

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