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REZA ABDOH - Full Productions 1989-1993

Reza Abdoh (1963-1995) was an Iranian-born American theatre director and playwright known for his groundbreaking, experimental productions. Abdoh died of AIDS in 1995 at the age of 32, having created an impressive body of stage spectacles known for their sensory overload, ferocious energy and hallucinatory dreamscapes. Abdoh was an enigmatic and prolific creative force and with his company, Dar A Luz, formed in 1991, he created productions that have made a major impact on experimental theatre worldwide and whose influences are still being felt and talked about to this day.

Minamata - Part 1 (1989) - Los Angeles - Directed by Reza Abdoh

"Corporate greed and environmental pollution are the targets of playwright Reza Abdoh in 'Minamata,' opening Friday at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.

"Minamata is the name of a fishing village in Japan," said the writer-director ("Peep Show," "Eva Peron," "Rusty Sat on a Hill One Dawn and Watched the Moon Go Down"), who wrote the piece with Mira-Lani Oglesby. "Chisso, a company that makes parts for plastic, dumped mercury waste into the water supply and the fishermen got sick. A high percentage of the villages depended on fish and fishing so their livelihoods dried up too.

"The story of Minamata is just the departure point for the play," the writer said. "It's the ghost behind the play, the shadow over it. The piece is a meditation on beliefs, ways of thinking, how operatives in the system create a way of thinking that makes it possible to destroy life in order to improve it. There's a thesis that in order to progress you have to allow for destruction. No. You cannot buy into that way of thinking, because it's erroneous and hurtful."

Abdoh rejects the notion of "linear" theater: "The world is not a linear world. We don't go from point A to B to C and end up at point Z," he said. "The whole point of the 19th Century is that we were drowning in rationalism. I celebrate irrationalism. Our problem is we repress flights of fancy."

And if the flights are obscure?

"I don't think it's an artist's place to describe his or her work," Abdoh said firmly. "After a while, the work takes over anyway, and you have nothing to do with it. I don't want my work to be understood--because if it's understood, it's forgotten. It needs to be experienced ; if you experience, you retain a seed. We're always trying to (understand) things: 'How do you do that?' Well, you just experience it. And hopefully at the end of your life you have a distance on it: 'Oh, that's what it was. Now, onward.' "

Reza Abdoh: Meditation on 'Minamata'
April 09, 1989 JANICE ARKATOV

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