New Repertory Theatre is pleased to announce the selection of two new artist residencies for its second round of Pipeline Projects. Selected from over 40 submissions from local artists, these artists represent exceptionally innovative and relevant works for our time.
The selected artists are Nikta Sabouri, an Iranian-American freelance theater director, dramaturg, actor, and translator based in Boston and Iranian-American writer, actor and singer Isabelle Sanatdar Stevens. Nikta Sabouri’s project will be the first English translation of the 60-minute play “Testament of Bondar Bidakhsh,” a dramatic account of the fall of the Vizier to Yama, the King of Persia. This high-ranking official constructed a magical cup to give Yama infinite knowledge and absolute power, which ultimately led to their mutual downfall.
The “Testament of Bondar Bidakhsh” is the third play in the “Naqqali Trilogy” book by Bahram Beyzaie. The book consists of three works that blend traditional Iranian storytelling modes with contemporary Western theatrical practice, each concerning a heroic figure from Persian mythology.
Sabouri, who earned her B.A. in theater directing at Tehran University in Iran and an M.A. in theater theory and dramaturgy at University of Ottawa, Canada, says: My objective in this project is to recount an original myth of Persia, introduce an Iranian traditional dramatic form, and bring it into the melting pot of Bostonian theatre to foster cross-cultural communication, understanding, and compassion amongst an audience of diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Isabelle Sanatdar Stevens’ work centers on the voices of Middle-Eastern immigrants, refugees, and their children. Her solo performance piece, Mahsa’s Last Song, will reflect on what is happening in Iran currently. On September 16th, 2022, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini “mysteriously” died in a hospital after being taken into police custody by the Iranian Morality Police for “not wearing her hijab appropriately”. Stevens is also 22, and during the Islamic Revolution her father was arrested and her uncle was killed by Islamic Republic forces for protesting.
Mahsa’s Last Song, also highlights the impact and influence that younger generations have on facilitating change. Mahsa was the same age as Isabelle at the time of her death. The piece will reflect on the revolution transpiring in Iran currently and the four+ decades since the Islamic Revolution, through the use of vignettes of stories, music, and silence.
Stevens is currently pursuing her MFA in Playwriting at Boston University. She says: Solo performance is something I’ve been exploring more and more over the years, and it holds a very special place in my heart, as growing up in my community oral history and storytelling were often how stories and histories were passed on from my elders to me. To me, solo performance allows for an intimacy that only monologues and one-person shows can achieve; it’s the act of doing what’s at the heart of theatre–telling a story, from one person to another.
Among New Rep’s inaugural generation of Pipeline Projects is The Fatherhood Mixtape, which is now continuing in development for its world premiere in 2024. Created by and featuring Brandon G. Green, James Milord, JāQuan Malik Jones and Regine Vital, this new theatrical experience explores what it means to be a Black man and a father in today’s ever changing and challenging world.
The Pipeline Project invests directly in local performing artists, writers, and performance makers, providing concrete and tangible pathways to production at the professional level. It embodies core principles of New Rep’s Renewal Vision, with a renewed commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility, and accountability (IDEAA) infusing every aspect of the company’s work as it seeks to build community collaborations and give voice to the diverse interests of those communities.
New Repertory Theatre (New Rep) has been an award-winning professional theatre company for 39 years, staging productions and events that speak to the vital ideas of our time.