“White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” gets audiences out of their seats
Playwright Nassmin Soleimanpour (left) and actress Julia Stevenson (right) Photo Credit: The Guardian
The play “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” has been met with positive reviews since its premiere in London, England two years ago. Now, that it has made its way across the pond to America, viewers and critics can’t get enough of this collaborative performance.
Written by Nassmin Soleimanpour, this play uncovers life in modern-day Iran. A crowd of almost seventy people were in attendance to see the highly-anticipated performance on Friday, Oct. 4 in the Performing Arts Center. The end of the play left everyone left in awe by this creative masterpiece and the new playwright that might give William Shakespeare a run for his money.
Soleimanpour is Iranian, and is confined in his home country because he refuses to serve two years in the army. In the meantime, he formed this play and distributed it to individuals in various countries.
The people of Iran are strictly monitored, so Soleimanpour is cautious about the way he portrays Iran in his play. Interestingly enough, the actor performing “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” comes into contact with the script for the first time at the beginning of the performance. Once he or she opens the script, they read Soleimanpour’s monologue.
He styles the script in a way to poke fun at the actor’s circumstances. Nevertheless, his point in writing this play is to connect with others about his country in the easiest and safest way possible.
(Flyer for White Rabbit, Red Rabbit Photo Credit from event’s Facebook page)
The play starts off in a comedic fashion as that night’s actress, Yvonne Perry, is told by Soleimanpour- in the script- to behave like an animal and perform other peculiar tasks. The audience is included in the acts as well.
Some people were asked to take pictures of the spectacle. Surprisingly, a member from the audience is required to finish the remainder of the script. This method provides a way for Soleimanpour to connect with his audience.
In fact, he provides his email address in the script in order for people to recall their experience at the performance. The series of events is quite interesting, but the playwright makes sure to follow this comedic approach with a serious tone as the actor continued the monologue.
Some might be confused by the structure of “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” because it requires an understanding of the symbolism the playwright uses [suicide, white rabbit/red rabbit story, various animals] to capture the meaning of his play.
More importantly, the actor, just like the audience, is anticipating -or fearing- what will come next as life for Soleimanpour in Iran unfolds line by line. Luckily, the perception of life in Iran is easy to grasp.
The actor at one point of the play cries in order to emphasize the predicament Soleimanpour is in. As the audience, we are able to appreciate his piece once we leave the theater and go on with life.
Nassmin Soleimanpour, on the other hand, remains confined literally and figuratively in a place where expressing himself is the difference between life and death. Fortunately, his thoughts remain alive as people perform his story and we, the audience, attempt to understand his predicament.
The audience enjoyed every minute of the performance. At a time when Nassmin Soleimanpour’s country is in disarray, he can seek comfort through his writing and remain optimismistic through his audience.
We return the favor by seeing his piece of work and hoping that one day, he will be able to experience a life of freedom that he has always dreamed of.