“The Fortresses” by Gurshad Shaheman: strong and resilient

Fortresses, a show set against the backdrop of the Iranian revolution, will be an opportunity for Gurshad Shaheman to return to Quebec. Presented at the Carrefour international de théâtre in Quebec, his family and political fresco articulates the lives of three women close to him, born in Iran in the early 1960s: three university students, grappling with the sudden revolution of 1979. In view of the news of recent years, the piece risks presenting very singular echoes.

The playwright confides it straight away, in an interview with The duty: it is a show which, since its creation in 2021, has been particularly sensitive to this news. “The first event that completely changed our reception of the show was when the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan. At that time, we were playing on the roof of the MUCEM [Musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée, à Marseille], with the sea behind; and during the day, we learn that, once again, the Taliban are in power…”

There was the Russian invasion of Ukraine, too: the passages of the show concerning the war, to a European audience who thought they were spared, suddenly resonated differently.

And through the troubles of an era at the tipping point, of course came the death of Mahsa Amini, in 2022, then the Woman, Life, Freedom movement: events subsequent to the creation of this show “written in times of peace”, which nevertheless color it.

“The show really presents this thing of the individual thrown into the big story, which causes events to happen and be decided up there to disrupt the routine of a peaceful life,” adds Shaheman. Here, there are three sisters who live in a small village and who have ambition, who want to study. “Then they reach the end of adolescence and, suddenly, there is a revolution. They are thrown into life like that. »

This globalization

The show is now crossing to Quebec: will this translation across the Atlantic also affect the reception? ” The the timing is just perfect,” specifies the Franco-Iranian playwright, who moved to France at the age of 12 following a mother in exile.

This American presentation of Fortressesit must be clarified, occurs in a particular creative context. In your footstepsa collaboration with Montrealer Dany Boudreault, which interweaves the paths of the two creators, will be presented at the FTA — this, after the passage in 2018 of Pourama pouramawhere the characters of Fortresses. “There, we change focus ; they are the main characters: they talk to me, tell me about their lives. »

“In fact, all these characters are also found in In your footstepsthat we go up two or three days before [Les forteresses au Carrefour]. And as I have had this collaboration with Quebec, with Dany Boudreault, for two years, and the idea is to investigate the lives of others… suddenly, there is a kind echo that occurs between the Carrefour and the FTA, and these destinies are also seen by a Quebecer in another room. I’m really very happy: it builds bridges between the two works, and between the three continents. »

If geography and political context remain essential, Shaheman nevertheless wishes to reframe his proposition: “The play takes place in Iran, but it could take place elsewhere. It contains a lot of revolt, it talks about love, marriage, what motherhood is; what it is, a couple that is doing well, a couple that is doing badly; she talks about the revolution, the war…”

“But there is also this power to celebrate the present, the joy of being here, together: of having survived all that,” concludes the playwright, whose work, drawing on the testimonies collected, likes to reconstitute “living libraries “. “And there is this idea of ​​being able to understand each other, too, of building a bridge: through these stories that we thought were personal, to say to ourselves that there is a way for us to understand each other, in a world where we are told much the opposite. »

What to watch for at the Carrefour international de théâtre de Québec

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