“…the festival’s crown jewel…is ICARUS/RISE, which bridges the legend of the mythological figure with the migration of Iranians in search for freedom…” SF Examiner

ICARUS/RISE is a provocative and emotional multimedia theatrical performance of new Iranian poetry, translated, created and performed by Niloufar Talebi, with original score by Bobak Salehi, and choreography and video by Alex Ketley, featuring Chloe Felesina as Icarus. Woven of poems featured in BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World (North Atlantic Books), and connecting the myth of Icarus with the solitary journey of the artist/immigrant in the quest for freedom, it tells the 30-year story of the migration of Iranians. ICARUS/RISE begins after the fall and is the journey to self-possession, featuring the emerging voices of Iranian poetry, including Ziba Karbassi, Granaz Moussavi, Maryam Huleh, Abbas Saffari, Jamshid Moshkani and Shahrouz Rashid, the poet of “Icarus”, as well as the poetry of Mina Assadi, and Yadollah Royaii.

Based on the poetry in BELONGING: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World, ICARUS/RISE is inspired by the Iranian spoken word tradition of ‘Naghali’, which is practiced in the streets, cafes, public rituals, or ‘art music’ stage. By giving this spoken word tradition new content (new poetry in BELONGING) — rather than its usual content of classical Persian poetry and myths — and fusing it with western theatrical elements, ICARUS/RISE gives voice to hybrid-Iranians, reflecting their experience in contemporary society.

This has never been done before, certainly not in translation, and not in the west. Many younger Iranian-Americans have never been exposed to and don’t have familiarity with their heritage tradition of Naghali and may not realize that global phenomenon like Hip Hop theater or poetry slams have cultural precedents in the Iranian traditions of ‘Mosha’ereh’ and ‘Naghali’. In the same way that Ezra Pound’s translations of Chinese poetry helped shape 20th C. American poetry, and Stanislovski’s writings on acting shaped the American “method”, our goal with projects such as ICARUS/RISE is to help introduce an Iranian theatrical/literary contribution to the American artistic landscape.