Narges Hashempour

Iranian Theatre from a Gender Perspective: Transformation from Traditional Form to Western Form.

Iranian theatre from the gender perspective is the object of my dissertation.  Focus of my research is the study of  women´s role  interchange from the private sphere to the public realm - in other word from tradition to the modernity - in the frame of theatre.

Theatre as a collective and viewable cultural phenomenon [Seeing and being seen] is a model of public space which is by nature open to the participation of the audience. Since the history of the public space is mingled with the concepts of modernity, it can be said that the history of private space is also linked to the concept of tradition. For me theatre is a dynamic format to understand the culture in which displays, and the social changes process in the frame of public space and modernity as well as private space and tradition. What is important for me is that theatre with the above mentioned links has never been able to ignore and deny the gender despite the fact that there were periods when women´s presence on stage could not be bared.   Theatre besides the expression of variety of topics and questions always asks the question: what does it mean to be a man and what does it mean to be a woman?

Within the scope of my research on one hand,  I intend to bring to light the inter-connection between theatre and the spaces in which women display their cultural and historical identity in terms of their social roles, habits, and behaviours.  Parallel to this I also intend to investigate the question of whether or not  theatre of Iran -with its specific characteristics to be established – has been a reflection of Iranian woman´s identity.  If so, I aim to navigate the route of social developments and events which are interconnected closely to her attitude towards herself and society´s attitude towards her.

My dissertation will include two parts:

  • The content of the first part is the analysis of Iranian traditional theatre forms from the gender perspective.  This aims to shed light on the female position in Iranian culture before the 20th century.
  • The second part will be pondered on the female changing role in the early 20th century  when  western theatre as modern phenomenon was introduced by intellectuals to the masses and the new discourses on issues related to women that this phenomenon generated.

The questions to be answered in centre of the above will be:

  • How the Iranian traditional theatre forms ( Ta´zieh and Roohozi) characterize the private space from the gender point of view?
  • How the identity of those traditional theatre forms as cultural significant relate to Iranian women position prior to 20th century?
  • What are the interconnection between the philosophy and performative characteristic of traditional theatre forms and western model of theatre from the point of view of Iranian women social statues?
  • Whether Theatre, both in its traditional forms or modern forms,  stabilise the pre-defined role of women based on pervasive patriarchal attitudes?
  • Whether and how women benefit from traditional and modern theatre forms to deal with the reality of their everyday lives.
  • Whether the identity of female acting is the paradoxical challenge between their private role and social role?

The importance of answering above questions based on specific points:

One, the performative function of theatre and its specific characteristic as cultural performance has this capacity to represent the symbolic system of the relationship between women’s issues with the power fields.

Second, to show, the process of confrontation with the modern phenomenon are based on the native norms and values in Iranian society.

Third, to indicate, the religious, namely Shia-Islam, philosophy and contents is embedded in Iranian performing art as well as Iranian women’s identity. 

Forth, the history of theatre and performance illustrate the redefinition of religious content and traditional values of femininity after the introduction of western theatre form and western women style of life in Iran. (20th century)

Fifth, to provide a compound analysis of the challenge between tradition and modernity as dominant concept in every aspect of Iranian life, particularly theatre and women position in it. 

In Iran, the presences of theatre and women participation in it indicate the beginning of the acquaintance of the Iranian society with modern concepts and components and the radical cultural changes which occurred in the early twentieth century in Europe.
Those radical changes were not the direct and immediate experience of eastern societies. The type of dealing and confrontation of East with West Developments traverse different ways in each of eastern countries based on their traditional, cultural and historical structures.So in my study, I aim to find a link between the Iranian cultural, historical structure with its related philosophy and symbolic system with the western theories of feminism, performance and cultural anthropology.


Personal Details


Academic Career


Alame Tabataba’i University Tehran:Arabic Literature


Private Theatre School:
Qanune Teatre ba NovanActing and Directing


Azad University:MA in Acting and directing

Since 2007

Freie Universität Berlin:
Doctoral student in the field of “Theaterwissenschaft”

Artistic Work

Since 1991

Works as an actress and director at various theatres, and member of a contemporary theater and Iran Theater House (Artists' Association.

Since 1998

Involvement in various international theatre projects and festivals in Iran, Germany, Sweden, Russia and Belgium, among others: "haunting forbidden" (Drama, 1998), Minsk Belarus Festival (1999); "nameless Maria" (director, 2000 ); "The House of Bernarda Alba" (actress , 2001), Mülheim, Theater an der Ruhr Festival (2001); "Medea" (director and actress, 2002), Malmö Festival (2002); "Unwritten whispers" (director, 2003) HKW, Berlin; "Scheherazade in the airport" (actress and director, 2005), Stuttgart; "Songs for her" (author and actress, 2006), Stuttgart, Mülheim, Theater an der Ruhr.



II. Summer academy of the festival “Theaterformen Hannover/Braunschweig” Who wants to be a woman tomorrow? Female Configurations in the Performing Arts of Today. International Artists Encounter


Symposium of “ Shahrazad” at “Theater der Welt Festival” in Stuttgart



Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart


DAAD in Berlin

Since 2009

Erasmus Mundus ECW

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