A group of prominent Iranian writers, poets, playwrights, and actors have asked two Italian stage directors to stay away from the Islamic Republic's official Fajr drama festival.
The festival is scheduled to run from January 30 to February 9 in Tehran, celebrating the triumphant return of the elderly leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran in 1979.
"Cancel your trip to Tehran and support the bereaved people of Iran who are still struggling to achieve their rights," the signatories to the letter have cautioned Italian stage directors Eugenio Barba, and Romeo Castellucci.
Eugenio Barba, 83, is an Italian author and stage director based in Denmark. He is the founder of the Odin Theater and the International School of Theater Anthropology, both located in Holstebro, Denmark.
Romeo Castellucci, 59, is an Italian theater director, playwright, artist, and designer. Since the 1980s, he has been one part of the European theatrical avant-garde.
The image of the two shines on the poster of the eighth Fajr Theater Festival, while the name of Eugenio Barba, is misspelled in Persian.
Castellucci is scheduled to stage Julius Caesar, while Barba will be staging The Chronic Life at the festival.
Referring to the deadliest anti-regime protest in the four-decade history of the Islamic Republic in November, the Iranian authors, poets and artists have reminded their Italian counterparts that the massacre of Iranians by the clergy-dominated political establishment of the country is continuing.
"In such a horrific situation, running movie and theater festivals, and inviting professional Western artists to Tehran is merely an attempt to cover-up the heinous crimes committed by the Islamic Republic regime," the letter says, adding, "Fajr Film and Theater Festivals have got nothing to do with the people of Iran. They are merely a tool to deceive the West. Therefore, your presence in them will be interpreted as your cooperation with the regime."
Furthermore, the signatories have cautioned the Italian stage directors that the money they will receive for attending the Fajr Festival is stolen from starving children of Iran.
Instead of attending such festivals that equals to endorsing the Islamic Republic's crimes, the signatories have argued, "Support the bereaved people of Iran who are still fighting for their rights."
Prominent Iranian artists, poets, and authors living in exile have signed the letter.