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"The Anniversary Present"

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Hashemi, Seyed Afshin (Iranian playwright, actor, October 12, 1975-____), “The Anniversary Present,”

a 10-minute drama in English, translated by Rouzbeh Eftekhari (Iranian translator from Farsi into English, 19__-____) from the original Farsi, set in Tehran, Iran, 2002,

1m or 1f (or more)

; • © 2002 by Seyed Afshin Hashemi, English translation; • in Seyed Afshin Hashemi’s The Anniversary Present (Tehran, Iran: The Author, 2002); • script/rights available In original Farsi or English translation from Seyed Afshin Hashemi, No. 13, Shahamati Street (opposite to the Esteghlal cinema), Vali-asr Avenue, Tehran, Iran, telephone/fax 009821-8903370, e-mail seyedafshinhashemi@hotmail.com. • Cited by Seyed Afshin Hashemi via e-mail October 3, 2003; Hashemi says,

§ Dramatis Persona Lonely Man (m), husband.

§ Synopsis Darkness. A candle is burning on the table. Light. The Lonely Man arranges the table and sets some puppets onstage as he admires the new day. He mimics a doorbell and starts mending a puppet as he praises his darling. The man wraps the puppet in a paper. Again he mimics the doorbell and describes the arrival of his beloved. He stops wrapping the puppet in the paper, unfolds it, and puts it within her sight. Light. He addresses the puppet which he places for his beloved’s encounter. Again he mimics the doorbell and ecstatically describes his beloved’s approach on the stairs. Darkness. Light. The Lonely Man and the puppet are onstage. Some puppets of the previous scene are absent. He announces, “Today’s a lovely day. Today’s a very lovely day. Today we are going to celebrate our anniversary as we do every year.” . He imitates the doorbell and muses on appropriate music for the occasion. The Lonely Man imitates the sound of the doorbell, reminisces about the inspiration of his father’s courting his mother, dances as his parents danced, and pleads with his absent lover not to quarrel with him. He imitates the doorbell and promises his lady a forever of no fighting. Darkness. The lights come up and reveal some puppets are missing and the main puppet has changed a bit. The Lonely Man imitates the doorbell. He reiterates the announcement of the wedding anniversary and promises not to fight. He savors and reconstructs the first meeting with his love at a performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto. Their enviable love changed into fighting over his attending to his puppets and his playing chess with the fellows. His lover resorted to hypochondria for attention. Her railing made him wish her dead. Darkness. Light. The Lonely Man and the puppet are onstage. The puppet is changed a bit. There’s no other puppet. The Lonely Man reenacts the doorbell, his anniversary announcement, and invitation to the table. He reveals more details of the lovers’ conflict, the stress from which has ruined his chess playing. He resents the marital inquisitions just as he had resented those by his mother, whom his wife emulated. He says, “I need to escape so that I can be my own. I need to be alone so that I can devote sometime, even a moment, to myself. Absolutely to myself. Just a bit of solitude. But you were a … a barrier … yes … you skillfully filled in for her and played her role. . . . And you didn’t know how it would make me hate you. I resent you to the extent that I long for your death.” . He equivocates about murder while hearing his wife’s taunts grow and grow, then he sees the celebratory puppet, the one he has made for her, fly and shatter. He describes a vision, “My hands on your throat. They made parallel, dark-blue lines on your colourless neck.” . Darkness. Light. The Lonely Man is onstage with the fragments of the puppet. He again imitates the doorbell and greets his wife on their anniversary, for which he had prepared a big meal and he has eaten with increasingly distorted perception. He recalls dreaming of his wife and being awakened by her screams. “I loved you, and I wanted to live and for us to enjoy each other. But what happened? . My puppet chessmen were cracked; the puppet of our wedding anniversary broke into pieces; my childhood fellow deserted me; all my love memories died; and at the end, Chopin’s poetic music metamorphosed into the screams of a bony piano. Now I think I had the right to have that dream. You had swallowed all those past memories. And when I grabbed your throat, you didn’t bring them up. So I devoured you to preserve that memorable past. . . . . Well, I loved you too; a lot . . . . so I devoured you. I had a romantic meal. Now I’m sure that we stop fighting at dinnertime; we stop fighting at lunchtime; we stop fighting at anytime . . . we stop fighting forever . . . .” He imitates the sound of the doorbell. “We stop fighting . . . we stop fighting forever . . . .” The real doorbell sounds, amazing him. Silence. Darkness.

§ Comment Hashemi explores cannibalism, as did seventeenth century Jacobean dramatists in England and at least two dazzling twentieth-century playwrights—the Spaniard Fernando Arrabel (1932-____) in The Architect and the Emperor of Assyria (full-length play,1967) and the American Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) in “Suddenly Last Summer” (one-act play, 1958, later adapted by Gore Vidal (1925-____) (feature-length film, 1959). Hashemi uses repetition as a technique and a theme. Grasping at reality becomes the Lonely Man‘s idee fixe. This obsessive memory is a tune he cannot fully remember nor fully forget. Cyclic remembrance becomes inevitable as he struggles for sense and control over what has been done to him and what he has done in response. The past, though, is immutable; he can change it only by regarding it differently, but even that cannot save him. His evasions and actions crack his sanity. “Everything it was, it cracked.” The only reality of which the audience can be sure is the real sound of the doorbell, the sound that represents an outside world that can and will thrust social consequences upon this lonely individual’s struggle. • Research could include Peter Greenaway's film, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989, released on video 2001), with a cast including Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren, Alan Howard, Tim Roth, Ciaran Hinds, Liz Smith.

§ Themes cannibalism, chess, dementia, dominance, family, friendship, marriage, mother-son relationship, murder, puppetry, repetition, romance, survival.

See also Seyed Afshin Hashemi’s

  • The Most Honest Murderer of the World,” a 40-minute drama in English, translated by Rouzbeh Eftekhari, Noushin Seidhosseini, Hooman Khodadost from the original Farsi, set in Tehran, Iran, 2002, 1m or 1f (or more)
  • Speech,” a 5-minute drama in English, translated by Elham Esfahani from the Farsi original, set on a speech platform with a microphone, 1994, 3m

This Website continues under construction and welcomes new citations and comments.

Page mounted October 4, 2003, and updated June 24, 2004, by the Webmaster.

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