Farnham Maltings touring village hall across the UK…

Here is a blog by Nell Ranney, Production Manager for The Iranian Feast. This is the second time Nell has worked with Farnham Maltings, her first show was In Praise of Elephants which toured all over the UK in Spring 2013 and is re-touring in Spring 2014.

For more information on the tour and booking tickets, click here.

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I am currently touring rural UK again, with another show specifically created for village halls.  The play is about Iran, and it is also a feast.  The actors prepare food to share with the crowd as the story unfolds.  It is a last supper of sorts, as a family learns they are forced to flee their country.  It is a celebration of Persian culture, cuisine and hospitality.  And it raises awareness of a country that is simultaneously ” great, stupid, broken and beautiful” where families, not dissimilar to our own,  are trying “to hold the world together with being normal” while struggling for freedom everyday.

This for me, is theatre in it’s true form; vital and pure.

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We are the old fashioned travelling theatre troupe.  There are just four of us, the actors and myself roving the countryside in a van.  And although it sounds romantic, within the same breath I have to say how hard this kind of work is.   We roll into a village and set up for one night, before we have to pack it all up to do it all over again in the next village. I am becoming an expert in packing vans and navigating B roads on top of many other things. The workload is enormous and does take a certain physical stamina. I am practically on call 24/7, living and breathing the experience.

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But if I ever wondered why I do it, (perhaps in that stressful moment when you realise you cannot find a pomegranate in Yorkshire!), here is why…

This is a comment sent to the company from an audience member after seeing the performance last week.

Setting aside the consummate skill of the actors in bringing the subject to life, I was most forcibly struck by the way it demonstrated the superiority of live performance over the televisual representation of the same events during the Iranian ‘revolution’ a couple of years ago. It struck me that its power had impacted viscerally on the consciousness of a rural audience who by their circumstances might never have been forced to engage with the universal human issues it so eloquently articulated. But it also caused me reflect on the origins of theatre, in Greece, and the essential role of theatre in a healthy society; of how perhaps on the very site of the village hall the local community in the middle ages or the renaissance might have been diverted and challenged by bands of strolling players; and it made me realise how much society would loose if such performances as I was honoured to witness last night were allowed to decline into extinction by the self-interested myopia of the culturally impoverished philistines currently in charge of the Arts in our unfortunate country. Thank for continuing the struggle.”

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This is why I make theatre.  This made my heart swell.

I truly believe in the value of live performance.

I feel so proud and lucky to do what I do.


Blog by Nell Ranney. Photos by Mark Dean in Lingfield and Dormansland Community Hall.  

With Mick Strobel Lisa Zahra and Norma Dixit.  

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