“NASSIM”: theatre unscripted

Photo courtesy of The Cultch.

What would it be like to walk into a performance without knowing the script? That is what NASSIM, the international award-winning play, asks of its performers. There are no rehearsals; there is a different guest actor at each performance; and the actors never see the script until they step on stage to perform it.

“This [type of experimental theatre] allows the actor an opportunity to go back to who they are,” says Nassim Soleimanpour, multi-disciplinary theatre maker from Tehran, Iran.

NASSIM will be showing at The Cultch’s Historic Theatre from May 7–19.

Rewriting the standards

Adam Grant Warren.| Photo courtesy of The Cultch.

The self-titled play has already toured extensively from its origin in the U.K. Like Soleimanpour’s White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, this play is described as having no borders. The playwright’s approach to these scripts is based on his desire to create more than a play; it is a way to look at the world.

“There was a point in my life that the concept of borders should change. NASSIM is a result of this contemporary world,” says Soleimanpour.

The play talks of the ideas of home and language, while underlining the idea that any place can be home. The name Nassim means breeze in Farsi, Soleimanpour’s first language. His father, a famous novelist in Iran, referred to the Soleimanpour as a hurricane during the playwright’s youth.

“Whether a hurricane or a breeze, I love to travel; going from country to country carrying these ideas hopefully finding places where they can blossom,” says Soleimanpour.

During his young adulthood, Soleimanour took 7 years to write his internationally acclaimed White Rabbit, Red Rabbit. It was his sole intention to write a play that would travel beyond Iran. He imagined an endless play that had no boundaries, no limits. To this date, White Rabbit, Red Rabbit has been translated into 25 different languages and performed over 1000 times across the globe and has toured for over a decade. Soleimanpour says the play was designed to survive.

The play has landed

Pippa Mackie.| Photo courtesy of The Cultch.

The gueststars in NASSIM’s Vancouver performances are Carmen Aguirre (May 7), Adam Grant Warren (May 8), Maiko Yamamoto (May 9), Marcus Youssef (May 10), Craig Erickson (May 11), Christine Quintana (May 12), Dawn Petten (May 14), Pippa Mackie (May 15), Quelemia Sparrow (May 16), Tetsuro Shigematsu (May 17), Conor Wylie (May 18) and Donna Soares (May 19).

Writer, performer and director Adam Grant Warren says that ever since he was asked to perform the show he has been looking at his own work from different angles. Busy with his production Lights, showing at the upcoming rEvolver Theatre Festival, it was a scramble to find a night that accommodated his schedule but he was determined to make it happen.

“I’m 100 per cent confident that it will be a learning, educative experience for me. It will lead me into a place where I’ll learn a little bit more about myself,” says Warren.

Pippa Mackie, voted ‘Artist to Watch’ by the Vancouver Sun and the Georgia Straight, will be performing on May 15. Her film and television credits include Supernatural (CW) and Van Helsing (Sci-Fi). Mackie says she was born with a love for acting and theatre. So, when asked to do NASSIM, she felt truly honoured.

Nassim Soleimanpour.| Photo courtesy of The Cultch.

“You must trust your instincts as a performer and let the show reveal itself while you’re on stage. This is so interesting to me and I can’t wait to see what it is like,” says Mackie.

Preempting NASSIM, Soleimanpour’s BLANK will also open at The Rumble Theatre from April 30–May 4. Soleimanpour says that engaging the audience has been of certain interest to him. So BLANK reverses the typical theatre experience: it’s a script riddled with blanks, leaving the audience in charge of how the story will unfold.

“Theatre needs to start another dialogue,” says Soleimanpour.


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