There is a lovely, intimate ambiance to the evening as we are welcomed into three lively recounts of love and romance, performed by Mahdi Mohammadi, Jawad Yaqoubi and Hasiba Ebrahimi.
As we enter the auditorium, the artists are having tea with First Nations Elder, Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Grovenor. What proceeds is one of the most touching Welcome to Country ceremonies I’ve personally witnessed, as Dixon- Grovenor tells audiences of the importance of holding our loved ones closely, for the continuation of ancestral reverence and love.
This sets the scene for what is to follow. Professing to be a ‘crash course in love’, the work expresses the complexity and beauty of this most ineffable, most human yearning, to love and to be loved.
The first scene opens with a FaceTime projection of writer Jalal Nazari reciting mystical poetry in real time. This livestreaming of projections is arresting, as the piece speaks to the genuine connection and sharing of love, transgressing borders and time zones, illimitable and inspiring.
What ensues are three personal recounts of many iterations of love and affection; from familial, to romantic and everything in between. The soliloquies are animated and entertaining, punctuated with dance, singing and live music.
The audience is folded into the story in innovative ways. Many of the recounts and passages of poetry are recited in Farsi and dual translated into English, seamlessly after, making for an inclusive, welcoming experience regardless of native language.
One of the most provocative sections of the work is where it is stated that ‘translation can be an act of love or betrayal’, in reference to the white-washed colonial translations of exquisite poetry by Rumi and Hafez.
James Atkinson was exposed as a murderous coloniser as well as untruthful translator, secularising and trivialising these beautiful, epic poems from Iran and Afghanistan in his poor translations of the work.
All the while, Hasiba Ebrahimi reminds us that these works are ‘a literature without borders’, seeking to console the human desires of us all, for love and belonging.
After many alluring readings of the poetry and humbling recounts of each of the artists’ experiences of the bewildering power of love, we are left with the imploration to ‘do everything with love’ and place these ‘pearls’ of wisdom and solace in our hearts.
The overall effect of this performance, universal in its reach, is a sense of effusive joy and comfort. A ‘feel good’ night with a soul-replenishing aspect for certain.
Dorr-e Dari: A Poetic Crash Course in the Language of Love
Fairfax Studio – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Performance: Friday 2 September 2022
Season 2 – 3 September 2022 (closed)
Image: Dorr-e Dari: A Poetic Crash Course in the Language of Love – photo by Anna Kucera
Review: Leila Lois