Tomatoes, a blue story book, and the most unconventional theatre experience you will ever encounter. Nassim Soleimanpour’s self-titled play Nassim is an exploration of motherhood, language, and storytelling with a unique premise – a new actor performs the play every night, having never seen the script or rehearsed beforehand, while receiving stage directions from the playwright himself. As a result, the play erases boundaries between the content and its creator, the actor and their process. No audience will ever see the same play twice.
Soleimanpour’s story has been written about in the media so many times. An Iranian writer who has written critically acclaimed plays like White Rabbit, Red Rabbit and BLANK, Soleimanpour refused national service in Iran, and as a result he was denied a passport for some time. Eventually released from this situation on medical grounds, he now lives and works in Germany. He first introduced the concept of an unseen play with White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, partially out of necessity since he could not leave the country to rehearse with his actors on the source material. Now, with the travel restriction removed, he’s far more hands on, controlling the way his story is told, and witnessing the magic happen right in front of him.
The play features a minimalist setting and clever lighting, with the audience seated in close proximity to the action, allowing us to get physically and emotionally involved with the material being presented to us. The 70 minute piece is witty, original, and infused with humour, however the poignant themes often hit you out of the blue. I’m not ashamed to say that the final act of the play made me cry. It is a testament to witty writing, effective motifs, and the strong universality of the storyline that the play touches your heart, and leaves you thinking.
While based upon the playwright’s life, the work chips away at global boundaries and remains especially applicable to the experiences of migrants who can relate to the way language both divides and unites us, and the unique relationship we share with our motherland and mother tongue. Performed in English and Farsi, the play is a clever and subversive piece of contemporary theatre that walks away from the traditional boundaries of drama as we know it. However, it still manages to raise important questions about the way migrants face alienation and loss of culture in a world that continues to other them and their languages.
Nassim is not a play for those who want to stick to traditional theatre. It is a play for innovators, dreamers, and people who aim to break boundaries. It’s a breeze, it’s a delight, and it is a must watch.
Ishita Mathur | Diversity Editor