Layla Majnun | Tale as Old As Time
We love fantastic, local works and Layla Majnun is no exception
We asked creative producer Zainab Sayed to tell us all about the new production from Performing Lines WA.
What is the story of Layla Majnun?
Zainab: Layla Majnun is an epic Persian tale of love and separation. It follows the life of Qais, and Layla who fall in love with each other, but are never able to be together. Qais, annihilated in his love for Layla eventually exiles himself to the desert, and becomes known as a madman – Majnun.
The story was first penned by the Persian poet, Nizami in the 12th century and has been passed through the generations across the Islamic world, anecdotally. Over time many giants of Persian poetry; Rumi, Saadi, Attar and others have added to the narrative. Beloved by Muslims across the world, the story has many layers of meaning – and is often used to explain metaphysical concepts of Divine Love.
What drew you towards it?
Z: Although the story has been re-told many times, it has never existed in this current format. Ustaah Feraidoon Mojadedi, a respected scholar and storyteller has spent years sifting through the various fragments that have existed across the span of Persian literature, to string together a narrative that is authentic, as well as universal in its appeal – exploring love, separation and the metaphysical.
The opportunity to bring Ustaadh Feraidoon’s traditional style of Persian storytelling into a theatrical context was not only exciting, but offered us the possibility to re-imagine the way it could be shared with a wider audience.
It has been said that you are creating an experience, not just a theatre show – how so?
Z: From the beginning, the creation of Layla Majnun has been a cross-cultural collaboration between emerging and diverse artists (Mujeeb Khan, Sinan Aizad and Haadia Bangash) with art-form mentors (Tristen Parr and Mia Holton) from WA. When it came to premiering the show, we wanted to make sure that patrons walked away with an experience instead of just attending a night at the theatre.
In order to do so, we have curated an extensive pre and post-show program of activities, exhibition, food and live entertainment for patrons to enjoy alongside the performance. This program of activities will not only celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the story, but also offer entry points to the story for those who may not be familiar with it.
We also want to make all audiences feel welcomed and comfortable in the space. So we have ensured that we can accommodate for a prayer room, halal food, closed bar, family friendly activities, special discounts, access to the venue and special discounts for those who have financial hardship.
What/who else can we expect to see?
Z: Written and performed by Farsi scholar and storyteller, Ustaadh Feraidoon Mojadedi, the show is created by a team of diverse artists from Western Australia and directed by James Berlyn.
Showcasing poems by Rumi and other poets, this hour-long performance integrates stunning large-scale projections, an original score and a new translation of one of the world’s oldest surviving stories told through traditional Persian storytelling to bring this work to life for audiences in Perth.
Each night from 6.30pm onwards, we will have entertainment and activities for all ages, as well as an exhibition by Muslim artists and food trucks serving halal food. A prayer room is also accessible to everyone and this is an alcohol free event.
What do you want people to take away from this experience?
Z: Rumi once said, “Between hearts, there are little windows through which mysteries travel”.
We hope that Layla Majnun will open doors between hearts, and offer us insight into worlds we did not know of before. Being able to bring this iconic story to the stage not only honors and revives the tradition of theatre within our communities, but it is a powerful way to counter the xenophobia many of us experience.
This production aims to bring people from across different cultures together through ideas central to the story that impact us all - universal themes of love, loss and separation.
The work was created with the assistance of illUMEnate, a collective of diverse artists and humanitarians in Perth.
Enter the comp!
Ahead of the world premiere of Layla Majnun, Performing Lines WA want to offer some lucky audience members a chance to meet with Feraidoon and hear stories about Rumi over a delicious dinner.
To enter the competition, visit laymajnun.com.au and purchase a minimum of 4 tickets using the promo code RUMI before 10 September.
Winners will be notified on 11 September via phone/email.
T&C: The competition runs from 10am on 30 Aug to midnight on 10 Sept.
Dates: 2-5 Oct 2019
Time: Food and free entertainment from 6.30pm, show starts at 7.30pm
Age recommendation for the show: 12yrs+
Venue: Subiaco Arts Centre, 180 Hamersley Rd