A Moment of Silence
About the project
A Moment of Silence is a well-known play in Iran, originally written by Mohammad Yaghoubi in 1990. It was the winner of the Playwrights' Society of Iran's Best Play prize and was voted the second most popular play in Iran since the 1979 Revolution. Having re-located from Tehran to Toronto, Yaghoubi needed a dramaturg who could anticipate what a Toronto audience would know about the political situation in Iran. Additionally, Yaghoubi’s writing explores political problems through oblique poetic symbolism and this has allowed him to deftly navigate censorship in his own country and speak to an audience that knows how to read between the lines. Balancing these aspects was a challenge that we met in a variety of (imperfect) ways.
We added scenes of exposition in which characters spoke about the sounds and sights and traumas of the Islamic Revolution. We also added surtitles with stage directions for certain scenes that are ambiguous about whether they are happening in fiction or reality. These stage directions began as literal explanations of the action occurring on stage, but soon began to diverge, creating an alienation effect that suggested that they may not be reliable. Sometimes the surtitles would offer footnotes with information about specific cultural references and other times they would tell a different story from what was being shown. In these ways, the audience could be fed just enough information to be able to follow the story but without didactic overload. My other task was to adjust the idiomatic language of the script, which had been translated by a speaker non-native speaker of English. The challenge was to make the language flow for Canadian actors without entirely losing the flavour and the poetic tone of the original Farsi syntax.
A Moment of Silence. By Mohammad Yaghoubi. Starring Sarah Marchand, Maxime Robin, Parmida Kakavand, Melanie Pyne, Lara Arabian, and Paul Van Dyck, Directed by Mohammad Yaghoubi. Factory Theatre, Toronto. 6-14 Aug. 2016.