“If you choose not to go home then you will spend a very, very long time here.” Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison, in a video message to the detainees on Manus in 2014, four months after the riot that saw the brutal murder of Reza Barati.
Politicians may yawn. And maybe the media have started to run quiet on the shameful situation for those who sought asylum on our shores. And maybe the decade-long deluge of miserable reports have blunted our own moral energy to confront the prolonged suffering and trauma in our Pacific gulags.
But this will jolt you like a high voltage shock.
Manus is rough, agit-prop theatre in which interviews with Iranian asylum seekers still in limbo on Manus and Nauru are relayed verbatim by a cast of eight. The information presented may not be new to everyone, but what makes it explosive is that this is an all-Iranian company performing in Persian, and, apart from short seasons in Bangladesh and India, it has never been seen outside Tehran.
For director Nazanin Sahamizadeh the importance of taking her play, in which the main character is based on Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani (now entering his sixth year in detention), to Australian audiences cannot be overstated. She had to brave the opprobrium of authorities at home in Iran (who are, to say the least, “sensitive” to claims of persecution there) to raise awareness of Australia’s offshore detention regime. The thought that it’s even more “underground” in our democracy is blush-inducing.
It may not be easy to watch but the white hot ardour and authenticity of this piece make it a must see.
For the audio version of this event page, click here.
You can also see Nazanin Sahamizadeh speak in the Festival Forums on Friday 8 March at 12:30pm.
Event additional information
Playwright Leila Hekmatnia, Keyvan Sarreshteh Director Nazanin Sahamizadeh
Actors Ebrahim Azizi, Ehsan Bayatfar, Ali Pouya Ghasemi, Hana Kamkar, Hamid Reza Mohammadi, Nasrin Nakisa, Nazanin Sahamizadeh and Misagh Zare
Performance manager and Surtitle Siavash Maghsoudi Media Artist Frederick Rodriguez Set Designer Amir Hossein Davani Lighting Designer Ali Kouzehgar Music Behrouz Seifi Assistant Director Elham Khodaverdi Photo Mohammad Sadegh Zarjouyan Poster Designer Javad Atashbari Stage Assistant Omid Bajrang, Farnaz Tavalloli
Generously supported by Roger Salkeld and Helen Salkeld.