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Stanford’s Iranian Studies Program highlights Iran’s art, culture via new initiatives

Bahram Beyzaie and cast of Tarabnameh

Acclaimed director Bahram Beyzaie (center), the Bita Daryabari Visiting Professor of Iranian Studies, shares the stage with his actors after a Stanford performance of the Iranian play Tarabnameh.

Photo credit: Vahid Zamani
Feb 24 2017

By Alex Shashkevich

"Over the past several years, the Stanford Iranian Studies Program has focused on bringing important Iranian artists to Stanford and building awareness of Iran’s art history and culture through new programs and classes.

Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker and playwright Bahram Beyzaie was censored for decades in his home country and was not able to screen or publish many of his artistic works.

Now a Stanford lecturer, Beyzaie directed and staged a nine-hour, two-part play last spring as part of the Stanford Festival of Iranian Arts initiative, launched by the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies.

He said he felt a freedom he once believed was unattainable. “It was hard to leave my country,” Beyzaie said. “I love my country … but this was not believable for me to do in Iran.”

Since the Stanford Iranian Studies Program’s inception 10 years ago, its director, Abbas Milani, has worked on bringing artists like Beyzaie to Stanford to highlight different forms of art in Iran and promote discussion about Iranian and Iranian-American culture.

“One of the most telling facets of every culture is the art,” said Milani, who is also a co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution. “And you can’t understand Iran today unless you understand what is happening on the street, in the underground theaters, poetry readings, fashion shows and raves. All of that is part of Iran.”"

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