Audiences can prepare for a spectacle like none they’ve ever seen. Visual artist and 2014 Guggenheim Fellow Hamid Rahmanian is partnering with Shadow Light Productions and Mark Amin to present the largest shadow-puppet screening ever to be performed: Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic, based on the 10th-century classic Persian epic, Shahnameh (The Book of Kings).
Suitable for all ages, Feathers of Fire tells the action-packed tale of Zaul and Rudabeh, two starcrossed lovers of old Persia. Zaul is raised by a mythical bird in the wild. His deep love for Rudabeh enables them both to triumph over inconceivable odds, and then give birth to a beloved son, Rostam — the most important mythological hero of Shahnameh.
The artistic style and visually stunning imagery created by Rahmanian encompass over 500 years of the visual arts from cultures ranging from India to the Mediterranean Sea (c. 14th-19th centuries). “Feathers of Fire has elements from the Jungle Book, from Rapunzel and Romeo and Juliet,” says Hamid Rahmanian. “But it precedes all these stories. Zaul’s story is over 1,000 years old — that’s what makes it so universal.”
Based on Rahmanian’s own illustrated book, Shahnameh: The Epic of the Persian Kings (2013), Feathers of Fire utilizes internationally recognized theater director Larry Reed’s hallmark shadow casting methods. Reed is one of the few American dalangs (“shadow masters”) of traditional Balinese Wayang Kulit style. In this show, more than 160 shadow puppets and performers are featured in elaborate, handmade masks and costumes. Over 100 digitally animated backgrounds lend an authentic texture to the performance — all seamlessly choreographed and projected on a 15’ x 27’ screen—creating the feeling of live animation. The original score is by acclaimed Iranian composers Loga Ramin Torkian and Azam Ail of the band Niyaz, who have been described by the Huffington Post as “an evolutionary force in contemporary Middle Eastern music.”