Our own Executive Director Heather Redfern is attending the 29th Fadjr International Theatre Festival in Tehran, Iran this week. With dispatches coming all the way from Iran’s capital city, Heather is writing about her experiences being in a country that is new to her and what she will be taking in at the festival. The Fadjr Festival has theatre directors, producers, scholars and presenters participating from sixteen different countries. Here is the first post from Heather, check back tomorrow for the next update!
I have finally arrived in Tehran, Iran after 26 hours of travel: a ten hour flight to Heathrow Airport from Vancouver, a six hour stopover there, and then another eight hour flight to Tehran. We had to stop and refuel about an hour before arriving here as there is an oil embargo and the planes cannot refuel in Iran to make their return journey. I spent a great deal of time on the plane studying the women who were on my flight and their headwear. After tightly wrapping my scarf around my head before getting off the plane, a woman approached me and asked if it was my first time here. When I responded in the affirmative she told me there was no need to wrap the scarf so tightly. Indeed, in the airport, the women’s scarves came in many colours and most had some of their hair showing. However, as I looked out on the streets at the local women, most are wearing the traditional black hijab. A man at the airport tells me it is a design choice and not mandatory.
As we drive through the early morning streets of Tehran to our hotel we can see preparations for the big rally that will be held this morning. Today is the anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution and our hosts let us know that everything will be closed as a result. This morning there will be a big street parade: motorcycles are driving through the streets sporting large flags and banners and streets are lined with bunting and lights. I have slept through some of the action this morning but the rally is blaring on the TV as I sit in the hotel lobby writing this.
Today is a “day off” and the festival begins in earnest tomorrow with the arts market in the afternoon and the shows beginning in the afternoon. I am looking forward to my first adventures here.