It was supposed to be a play about the experiences of civilians in a warzone.
Instead, playwright and director Shahin’s Sayadi’s latest work became an intensely personal piece of theatre that examined his own experiences in a war-torn nation.
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Debuting Saturday on Neptune Theatre’s Studio Stage, Return Ticket: Halifax-Abadan-Halifax chronicles Sayadi’s journey back to his hometown of Abadan in southwestern Iran.
Sayadi left for Iran with the intention of writing about his cousin – who had been living amongst bomb blasts and flying bullets for eight years. Eventually, however, he decided to shift gears and focus on his own, often painful journey back to his homeland.
“It became inevitable,” he said. “(My cousin’s) story became my story. I had to go to my birthplace and speak to my family…it was very difficult.”
Throughout the play, the audience is submerged in the sights, sounds and experiences associated with Sayadi’s trip, as well as the ripple effect on his wife, Maggie, and their daughter, Azat, back home in Halifax.
While Halifax-Abadan-Halifax is essentially a deeply personal tale about the struggle for survival in the midst of chaos, Sayadi says the play also touches on the impact of modern technology on our daily lives.
“It became very clear to me that we are under constant watch…through e-mail, Skype, big corporations, Google,” he said. “Our way of communicating with our loved ones is at times problematic.”
To help convey this to the audience, three massive video screens have been mounted above the stage and will display multilayered, real-time images of the actors and broadcast them over the Internet during the performances.
“It can be an invasion of personal privacy,” Sayadi said. “We needed to show this voyeurism into our lives.”