Amir Reza Koohestani / Mehr Theatre Group


Truth. Speculation. A closed room. Testimony. What happens when you hear what must never be heard?

At a girls’ dormitory where men are not allowed, Samaneh hears the voice of a man in Neda’s room. The female students who live in the same dorm summon the two and begin a harsh interrogation to find out the truth.

The Iranian playwright and director Amir Reza Koohestani spent his youth devoted to cinema, before joining Mehr Theatre Group and starting his career as a stage artist. Since receiving great acclaim for a play he wrote at the age of 22, he has continued to produce work that sharply questions contemporary society and enjoys constant attention worldwide.

The starting point for Hearing is a voice heard inside an all girls dorm. Koohestani has said he took inspiration from the documentary Homework (1989) by the Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. Feeling both surprise and empathy when he learned he was born in the same year as a boy shown scared in the film during an interview that takes place in a closed room, Koohestani reflects this in the body language of the actors in his play.

Was the originator of the voice really in Neda’s room? Are there any witnesses? The female students’ questions, which resemble those from a police interrogation, intersect and overlap with footage from small cameras showing what the performers are actually seeing onstage in real time. The effect is like a disturbing nightmare from which you cannot escape. And whose voice will we, the audience, choose to hear?

Kyoto Prefectural Citizens’ Hall ALTI
Performed in Persian with Japanese and English surtitles

Amir Reza Koohestani / Mehr Theatre Group

Amir Reza Koohestani (b. 1978) is an Iranian playwright and director. He was 16 when he began to publish short stories in local newspapers. Attracted to cinema, he took courses in directing and cinematography and created two unfinished films. After a brief experience as performer, he devoted his time to write his first plays for the Mehr Theatre Group. In 2012, the film “Modest Reception”, of which the script was co-written by Koohestani and Mani Haghighi, won the Netpac Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 2013, Festival actoral in Marseille (France) commissioned Koohestani to write and stage a new play, Timeloss. From October 2014 to March 2015, during a residency at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, in Stuttgart, Amir Reza Koohestani wrote the play Hearing. For several years, Koohestani has worked frequently in Germany where he has premiered several productions including Tannhäuser (Staatstheater Darmstadt, 2017), The Cherry Orchard (Theater Freiburg, 2017) and Macbeth (Kammerspiele, 2018).

Text & DirectionAmir Reza Koohestani
Assistant DirectorMohammad Reza Hosseinzadeh
PerformersMona Ahmadi, Ainaz Azarhoush, Elham Korda, Mahin Sadri
VideoAli Shirkhodaei
Music & SoundAnkido Darash
Light DesignSaba Kasmaei
Stage DesignAmir Reza Koohestani assisted by Golnaz Bashiri
Costume & PropsNegar Nemati
Second AssistantMohammad Khaksari
Stage ManagerMohammad Reza Najafi
Costumes AssistantNegar Bagheri
Production ManagersMohammad Reza Hosseinzadeh and Pierre Reis
Company & Tour ManagerPierre Reis
Produced byMehr Theatre Group
Coproduced byLa Bâtie – Festival de Genève, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt am Main, BOZAR – Centre for Fine Arts Brussels
Presented byKyoto Experiment