In an interview with Mahmoud Farhang

Some Parts of Oral History in the Field of Sacred Defense Theatre (I)

Interviewer: Mehdi Khanbanpoor
Compiled: Mariam Rajabi
Translated by Fazel Shirzad


Note: In this interview, we talk about the memoirs of Mahmoud Farhang who was born in 1953 in Hamedan, and he is writer, the theater director and critic. One who has been active in the field of sacred defense, and he always hopes that, by the development of artists, the fame of the great man of Sacred Defense will be spread over the world. In the interview of Oral History with Mahmoud Farhang, plans, events and people are discussed that it can be as a beginning of the development of Sacred Defense Theatre in oral history.


To start interview, I should be familiar with you. Introduce yourself partly.

I'm Mahmoud Farhang, writer, director of theater and an artist. I'm responsible for the director of Religious Play Center of Iran. When Imam Khomeini was leader and alive, I provided a program to appreciate the artists who were active in the field of theater, poem, music, literature and some other fields during the Sacred Defense. In the program, the late Seyed Fallah, two people else and I received a memorial medal and a first plaque of eight years Sacred Defense, as it was written by Imam Khomeini, with a honor diploma and a gold coin that was coined only for  these artists from Ayatollah Khamenei, who was  current president of Iran. This event was a great honor of my life as I achieved in these years.


Do you remember when this event had happened?

It had just happened after Sacred Defense. I have received a lot of statues from festival of Sacred Defense theatre and Bulwark Theater etc. the memorial plaque is very valuable to me.


When did you intend to play in Sacred Defense Theater?

When the Iraq Imposed War against Iran was started, I begin to play in the art center with the late Salahshoor and some other groups. When the first attack of Iraq began at dawn, later, we stopped the play named "Ocean" and began to work in the field of Sacred Defense. It means we tried to get priorities to work on Sacred Defense. The play "Night Password" was my first play in those years: it was about the fighting and struggles in the Kurdistan city, and it began on some days as Islamic revolution's activities. We were usually at the public masque. I remember when there were a lot of struggles among parties such as leftists, Marxists and Devotees of Islam in north. We were requested to play in the Shaft city and Fuman city. After playing in shaft, the people marched and protested there; therefore, the struggles of parties were finished in the city forever.  The prayer leader of Fuman was happy for this event, and he said that we were wonder if we could fight against the parties, as the injured solders and militants were come back from the war of Kurdistan.



My brother was martyred in the operation to liberalize the Abadan; however I had visited Abadan, I where he was martyred there. Then, I went Abadan. When I arrived there, I found that a play was performing there. It was surprising how it can be done in the situation of war and mortars. That is why I went there to see the play. When I arrived there I saw that Kurdistan's Sepah (Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (was performing the play "the Siege of Kurdistan". It was a real story about a last house surrounded by Iraqi army. This play was performed by Mr. Karemi, Mr. Kahedi, some other friends.  At first night, when I met them, I found they had problem to make the artists up; so, I was able to make u, I made them up by a few available equipment. While I was making up, I request friends for some artificial blood. One of them said that I could provide it. He went a hospital and brought some expired blood. By the time, I remember my brother, as his comrade said, he carried my brother thought the road for 5 km to find a van and carry him to hospital. But there wasn’t any blood as my brother's blood. Anyway, as the friend suggested, we used one bag of blood every night, and I get familiar with the artists in there after performing the play, we have been friends together up to now.

Next play named "But our imam said…" it was concerned with real story listened from radio. It was about a teen named "Firouz" and all of members of his family were died in the war, and he escape from Iraqi forces. I remember that I went Art Centre to Martyr Mofatteh Center, and we wrote a play about this teen and his family. We decided to go the frontage of war, the group of theater got ready to go. We moved towards Abadan by the public relation of Sepah. We performed the play in the center of Martyr Mofatteh, and then we performed it in Abadan for ten days. It was recorded there. By the time, Mr. Banisadr was the president of Iran. It was interesting for the fighters who watched this play. When we performed this play some interesting letters were sent to us that all of them are available now; the friends had written us that I wanted God to be martyred, in the situation we were not able to receive gun and Mr. Banisadr was not loyal to country and tried to make a disloyal action against Iran.

Another play named "Awake Sleepers": it was about two soldiers who laid on the mines to other soldier be able to pass on them. We performed the play in Shadegan city, Ahvaz and then Abadan. Mr Esmail Sultanian liked coming to perform the play very much; so, I brought him there. I remember that we practiced the play "a Venice businessman" at Molavi amphitheater. Mr Salahshoor to the director Dr. Panahi: "the war is finished and the resolution is accepted; so, give us permission to go to the front of war. He agree with us, and the play" a Venice businessman" was stopped after practicing for one year and having a lot of audience. After 10 month, we made a group and prepare a play named" One upon a day..." On the bus, when we were going towards south. First, we preform it in Ali ibn Abi Taleb (PBHM) division. Next, we performed the play for the fighters of 22nd brigade who were staff of educational system. I have in mind that Parviz Fallahipoor had a role in this play. In those days, the fighter were in bad mood condition, as the play was comic one, it effected and improved their sprit.

Later, I worked on another play named "Another promise"; it was about a couple who had only a boy. They wanted to send their boy to the war. The play was performed at Vahdat Hall. The play "The meeting of flower" by Seyyed Mehdi Shujai, was my next play performed at Chorsa amphitheater, and it was about some of our fighters who decided to escape from one of the Jails. My next play named "Speech", actually it was about one of Sadam's speech, and performed in International Fair. The play" Another darling" was another my play performed in Quern Fair at Do Kuheh battalion.


Did you perform the last plays, as you said, after the war?

Yeah. My next play named "the red stain one a green leave"; it was about fighters who were injured by chemical bomb. But it was made in a perspective on which chemical effects were shown on the around creature.  It was performed at doll festival. This picture as you see behind me is related to play "from earth to skies" performed in year 85. I had been invited to have a role in this play, but I responded them: "I work just with a professional team. In this picture, you can see Fallahipoor, Sirus Kabodinejad and Akbar Abdi. Mr. Abdi said me:" I am a comedian and I don’t enjoy of sacred defence plays. I asked him the reason, and he answered that I didn’t like gun, because my brother (Asghar) had been injured and martyred in the war of Kurdistan. We made a theater group in big members. We were going to have 26 explosions, and even we made a tank T72 to bring in the theater to fire. I said Mr. Fallahipoor that I would go to rifle range. I wanted him not to inform Mr. Abdi. We, from Sepah organization, went to rifle range around the mountain Damavand. We arrived the near of riffle range, Mr. Abdi wanted to come back. I gave them an example of the sons of Mr. Kabodinejad who used the infantry Weapons (colt) although they were teenagers. When Mr. Abdi got the car off, he heard the loud sound of G3. He was afraid. I requested the person who was responsible for rifle range to give a gun Kalashnikov; therefore, Mr. Abdi took a gun by hand as if he had attended in the eight years of war, it was very effective in audience. Then, Mr. Masoud Dehnamaki came there and watched my plays; he also prepared a play there. 

My next play was about recently war of Daesh (Islamic state of Iraq and Syria) in Syria, and in fact it was about disinterring body of Hujr Ibn Adi. It was performed in 1392 (2013) at International Fair and it was an open-air theater. Another picture, as you see beside me, is related to play in which I had a role. And it was Martyr Chamran named "Martyr Chamran"; an epic by an old man from Iranian people's Devotee Guerrillas". I adapted this play from the biography of martyr Baba Nazar who was one of commander of division Nasr Khorasan, a play about Susangerd. We performed the story of Martyr Chamran and his achievements and fighters and their roles in the war. The play was performed for 300 militants in the barrack of Zahedan. I worked for a TV theater in 40 parts that it was a introduction of dramatically literature for children and teenagers. In those years, to work in the field of sacred defence was one of our major activities. Almost 450 plays were performed that the major parts of published plays were concerned sacred defence for children and teenagers. All of plays was written by Iranian dramatists. Actually, Iran's children are growing up and they will go school and university; so, they should be familiar with sacred defence now. That is why, I gave the 40-parts play to TV channel 2 to be shown.

After short time, I decided to work in the field of Sacred defence for schools a little seriously. I was to select 400 schools and performed 400 plays in the field of sacred defence in school. I made and accord with schools, and actually Foundation of Preservation and Dissemination for Islamic values and Student mobilization (Basij) help me to do it. We chose ten area of Tehran city; then we performed the plays during 15 days of month Ramadan. The attraction of the plays of sacred defence with method of preformation caused, for example, the student of school with 600 students had an interest to watch play which artist were in. there are some wonderful photos of students and their interests to the play in those days.


To be continued…

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