Gharibpur is currently working on the Ashura opera puppet show, which is due to go on stage in the 27th Fajr International Theater Festival opening on January 21, MNA reported on Sunday.
Ashura, the tenth of the month of Muharram, marks the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) and a number of his followers.
The Ashura opera puppet show is a blend of music, puppetry, poetry, and tazieh. Tazieh has long been practiced across the country and has been a center of attention for dramatic art lovers.
Proper use of elements of dramatic arts in tazieh has helped preserve its great attraction and freshness. The play is widely performed during the mourning ceremonies of Muharram across the country.
There is a trace of tazieh observed in most Iranian plays performed throughout the country. While artists often make use of tazieh elements in their works, not many have performed tazieh in the puppet show style.
These days, Gharibpur and his troupe are rehearsing the Ashura opera puppet show at Tehran's Ferdowsi Hall of Rudaki Foundation.
Next to the hall are several small workshops where the puppets are made, and veteran puppet-maker Ali Pakdast and his other colleagues are working on the Ashura puppets. Seventy two puppets will be performing in the opera that is to last 72 minutes.
The team is preparing the stage design and some puppeteers are practicing their roles under the direction of Gharibpur.
One interesting point is that the small puppets seem to grow bigger in the creative stage lighting and even appear to be life-size.
The cavalrymen begin to enter the stage and Gharibpur helps them in their movements to present a realistic image to the viewers.
"To make better use of tazieh and its potential has always been one of my concerns. The tazieh reciters and performers have made great efforts to make appropriate use of tazieh and to increase its impression and add to its beauty since the Safavid era," Gharibpur stated.
"But most of the efforts were made by those with deep religious beliefs but limited artistic ability and without experience in the field of dramatic arts. Now it is the artists' responsibility to help modernize this art of tazieh.
"In seeking ways for a modern approach to tazieh, I realized that tazieh can be viewed as an oriental opera. After my experience with two previous operas (Macbeth, Rustam and Sohrab) both having western style and structure, I decided to apply these techniques to an Ashura opera," he explained.
He further continued that in this opera show, puppets have an advantage over actors, adding, "In puppet shows, one can more easily portray heroes and champions for the audience without having to deal with issues of reputations or positive or negative images that actors bring with them to the stage."
Gharibpur stressed that he has also made use of poetry by the Safavid era poet Mohtasham Kashani on the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS).
The music for the play, composed by Ukrainian-based Iranian musician Behzad Abdi, was also recorded at the National Radio Company by the Ukraine Symphony Orchestra in Kiev.