White Rabbit Red Rabbit by Iranian writer Nassim Soleimanpour is an intriguing journey into the mind and beyond. It fascinates by its premise that it is a kind of surrogate traveller for a playwright who was forbidden to leave his native Iran. It intrigues with its bold and freefall structure wherein we are faced with a piece that has no rehearsal, no director, a different actor each night, and a script waiting in a sealed envelope on stage. It is an audience driven social experiment soon to open at the Arts Centre and features singer-songwriter, pianist, comedian, writer and actor Eddie Perfect.
The piece is powerfully described as a testament to the power of words and took Soleimanpour six years to write. He describes his inspiration for the play as: ” A nightmare. I was drinking poison on stage, in front of an audience that included my close friends and parents.”
Since its joint premiere in 2011, the play has been translated into 20 different languages and has been performed over 1,000 times by some of the biggest names in theatre and film, including actors Whoopi Goldberg, Nathan Lane, John Hurt, Simon McBurney, Stephen Rea, Sinead Cusack, Marcus Brigstocke and Ken Loach.
Made up of 12 monthly shows, the work is driven by ideas of the importance of liberty and self expression. The audience joins each different performer on a journey into the unknown. It promises both a personal and profound experience, and, ultimately, challenges the boundaries of where theatre can take you.
Under these conditions, the element of risk is not only high for the actor but exhilarating and this transfers to the audience as they sit raptly listening to the tale of Soleimanpour’s family and life in Iran. It is a true journey of discovery – a postcard from a remote but somehow familiar land and life. It is a powerful piece that makes us confront our own humanity.
When asked what the message of his play is, Soleimanpour answers that the play itself is the best answer to this question. As far as themes of interest are concerned Soleimanpour is as provocatively compact: “Anything can be interesting if you look at in from an interesting perspective. As a playwright, I feel more responsible towards the play than myself or the audience. As an audience, that’s what I expect from a playwright. ”
So, will you participate? Will you be manipulated? Will you listen? White Rabbit Red Rabbit is a rare theatrical experience that should not be missed.