Play about the life and unsolved murder of an Iranian superstar comes to Ann Arbor

A multimedia performance about the life and death of a renowned Iranian pop star will run Nov. 15-18 at the Arthur Miller Theatre, 1226 Murfin Ave. in Ann Arbor.
The Javaad Alipoor Company will perform "Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World," which focuses on Fereydoun Farrokhzad. Farrokhzad held a similar status in 1970s Iran as Tom Jones or ABBA did in the U.K. or U.S. at the same time, according to Javaad Alipoor, who co-wrote the show with Chris Thorpe.
Asked if he ever grows frustrated explaining to non-Iranian audiences just how famous Farrokhzad really was, Alipoor says, "I'm not frustrated about it in the same way that I'm not frustrated about the fact that grass is green and if I knock a glass of orange juice over, it stains a carpet."

"Things Hidden" is the third in a trilogy of shows "that looks at how contemporary technology and digital culture interacts with politics," according to Alipoor.
The show uses the format of a murder mystery podcast — a choice that was a "no-brainer," Alipoor says, since "apart from anything else, they seem to constitute about 94% of human culture at the minute."
In 1992, Farrokhzad, who was living in political exile in Germany, was found brutally murdered in his Bonn apartment. His murder remains unsolved but has prompted innumerable theories about who is to blame — which is one of the points of Alipoor's play.
"That job of being a political artist is often about taking something that people might think of or feel and making it feel alive in a different way that they can be entertained by, compelled by, haunted by, and so on," Alipoor says.
But he draws a sharp line between being a political artist and a political activist.
Alipoor, who was a founding member of the International Alliance in Support of Iranian Workers and the Syria Solidarity Campaign, is certainly an activist as well — but there's a division, he says.
"My rule of thumb would be: if I know what the answer to something is, I won't make art about it," he says. "… The kind of work I make is much, much more about taking uncertainty and playfulness and questions I don't know the answer to and shar[ing] those with more and more and more people."
The show will be performed by Alipoor, Raam Emami, Asha Reid, and Me-Lee Hay. It will be presented by the University Musical Society. For tickets, click here.
Natalia Holtzman is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Millions, and others.

Photo by Chris Payne.
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