Lethe | An ode to oblivion & pain

letheSimply because this was one of the most intensely significant experiences of my life, I thought about sharing parts of it with you.

The journey began back in 2013 with constant echoes of these thoughts: What is movement? Do I know my body? Do I belong to this realm? Why am I doing this? What are we all trying to achieve? Is this a need or perhaps just another way to be?

My first inspiration for movement was the Greek myth of Poseidon. Coming from the world of Literature, I had already countless images from the God of the Sea and the dark world he’s associated with. I delved into this world of darkness and duality and it was already too late to detach from this Underworld of “concealment”.

The next assignments was to delve into dark moments of my childhood, to dig deep through the repression, touch upon the complexes and experience these notions through movement. At the time, the intention behind it all was simply to be part of this fascinating world that is expression through embodiment, but then came severe moments of ache and outflow of mindful pain. This felt so intense on my soul and I knew, if I were to keep moving in this path, I needed to remain aware, alert and awake.

Days passed by, weeks, bruises, months (twenty one to be precise!)

What happens to us when we go through such long periods of creative engagement in a piece that deals with so much darkness? A gloom that is projected from the reality of our actual dailiness; our daily life. This was on my mind time and again throughout the intensity. Were we simply reflecting the shadows or were we at least retaining some light, some shimmering hope?

The piece faced rejection last January when it was performed it in front of the jury that decides on permissions for Fajr International Theater Festival where we had initially hoped for the show to premier. I can just recall a certain feeling of awe and emptiness when this occurred. For us not to be able to share this extensive process with an actual audience after a little under two years of constant effort in communicating something that needed to be communicated was extremely discouraging and like a wet slap in the face.

We had to take all the pain, all the repression which was already out, back inside, down to the Underworld where it had come from and put a lid on it all for god only knew how long. To repress the repressions was a rather challenging experience. There was a one year gap in which many things happened; people’s paths diverged far from that of one another as well as from Lethe and we became victims of the forgetfulness we had started with; only this time, the object had become us.

When I got a call from our director, Atefeh Tehrani, about the possibility of the show going on the most renowned theater venue of Tehran (City Theater of Tehran) late summer, I had a very hard time saying yes to still being part of it. I was not sure if I would want to go through the pain once more and re-live those emotions and let them flow through my limbs for over 30 consecutive nights! You see, in Tehran when you do a show, you do it for at least one month.

This meant, 30 nights of exposing some of the most intricate wounds of childhood to a general public, hoping for healing powers in drama to nurse these wounds and transfer the positive through the pain. It ultimately became a state of being, an intention for movement.

There were other aspects to this project which made it impossible to say no to, despite the severe mental and physical pressure which it entailed. The fact that it was a particularly “physical” piece that normally doesn’t make it to a public stage in Tehran would be number one.

The fact that this director had not been able-due to circumstances-to create for over 5 years and that this made Lethe a great contribution to the avant-garde presence of drama in Tehran was number two.

The fact that THIS is considered a certain point in a certain collective map in a certain timeline is number three.

And last, the fact that a collective mind had put their souls, sweat and blood in creating something which had been imagined at some point, by the same collective mind and needed to live its life.

Lethe became a resting place for all the tension, tears and trouble. The forgetfulness helped me remember that there are so many reasons to stay alive and live among the living. I no longer feel forgotten nor forgetful.

Lethe helped me remember.

January 2017

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