2011 Archives

SMU students researched their play while worlds apart


The following is from a November 23, 2011, column by Deborah Fleck of The Dallas Morning News.

Alia Tavakolian and Piper Werle
SMU theater students Alia Tavakolian (l.) and Piper Werle.

November 29, 2011

By Deborah Fleck
The Dallas Morning News

There’s a story behind Babela Rasa, a play running Dec. 1-4 at Southern Methodist University. Theater students Alia Tavakolian and Piper Werle received a Meadows Exploration Award to travel to Iran to experience its theater culture. Through a newspaper article, they heard about Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour. They contacted the playwright through Facebook to see if he would be their guide in Iran. He agreed. But then Werle was unable to attain a visa. Tavakolian, an Iranian-American, was able to go.

For a month in July, she toured the theater and underground dance scene in Iran.

“I kept journals, captured film footage and conducted interviews with as many people as possible,” Tavakolian said.

Meanwhile, Werle conducted research about the country and its relations with America. Her older sister, a graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts, also did research and agreed to direct their play.

Tavakolian and Werle also sought the advice of an Iranian theater professor at California State-Los Angeles. Then they started writing.

The result is “a play that explores the strange world of international relations through the lens of science fiction,” according to Tavakolian.

They said they hope the play spreads awareness of poor international relations.

The play is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1, 3 and 4 and at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus in Dallas. Free. Call 214-768-2558.


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