Soheil Parsa’s Life and Career
Interview and report by: Farahnaz Samii
In 1982, Soheil Parsa illegally left Iran in search for something more. He lived in Dubai and India for two years before immigrating to Canada with his wife and young child. He attended York University where he continued his studies in theater, which according to him is his life’s passion. Parsa even went so far as to call it his magical world. Upon graduating, Parsa co-founded his own company with his good friend and colleague, Peter Farbridge. The company, called “Modern Times”, has had more than 35 national, as well as international, performances and joint productions with other countries to date. Five of these works have belonged to his master, Beyzayi: “The death of Yazdgerd”, “Selandar”, “Arash”, “Sindbad’s Fifth Journey”, and “Four Boxes”. He has also performed single works by artists such as Gholam Hosseyn Saedi, Abbass Nalbandian, and Mohammad Rahmanian. All of these works have also been translated into English as 95 percent of Parsa’s audience is English speaking. According to Parsa however, the second generation of Iranian immigrants who grew up in Canada have been more sensitive to his work in the last five years.
I questioned him about his theater work choices. I asked him: why Forough? Why shamloo?
He answered: “They are two of our best poets, and in my opinion, two of our most protesting contemporary poets. About three years ago, I had a multi-language performance about Forough’s life, in Italian, Farsi, Greek, and Spanish. The performance started with a crash and Forough’s death, and a grave built from her books. I liked that experience very much, but I felt that it was overlooked in the Tirgan Festival. When Mr. Tabrizi suggested that I take part in Paria and hold classes for Iranian children, I welcomed the idea and asked my students to bring in a poem from Forough and another one from Shamloo. I told them to establish a human relation with the concept of the poem and to understand it to the best of their abilities. I told them that if they can feel the connection, that I can also feel it as well. Well, that turned into a jumping platform for my teaching, and so we started.”
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