The 16th Mobarak International Puppet Theatre Festival, Tehran

The 16th Mobarak International Puppet Theatre Festival, Tehran

Iran hosted the 16th Mobarak International Puppet Theatre Festival from August 22 to August 28, 2016. The motto of this edition of the festival was “peace and security in the world.” The festival started with a musical carnival of puppets and marionettes proceeding through the streets of downtown Tehran and was accompanied a huge crowd of joyful children and their parents. Ten indoor and three outdoor spaces including City Theatre Complex and Vahdat Hall were the main venues of the festival.

Iran’s Mobarak festival hosted 70 performances, 45 stage performances and over 30 outdoor shows from Iran and seven countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, India, Czech and Afghanistan and Japan. Two German artists performed “Extraordinary Voyage” and held workshops on shadow puppet theatre.

Among many performances, the puppet show Khombazi of Fence Lady based on one of the stories of Haft Peykar (The Seven Beauties) by Nezami Ganjavi (1141-1209), the classic of Iranian literature was staged by Afshin Qasemi.

A huge robot puppet performed the Iranian premiere of Robots’ Blue Sky in the Guest Section of the festival. By using industrial robots in this play, Amir Hossein Shafei, the director, blended puppetry with robotics. Robots’ Blue Sky addressed certain urgent environmental issues that Iranians are grappling with including drought and air pollution.

Puppetry has a lasting tradition in Iranian culture and Iran has fostered a significant cooperation with UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionnette) in recent years.

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