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Nassim Soleimanpour
White Rabbit, Red Rabbit

Sat, Nov 9, 3 pm

This performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is an American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreted Performance.

Copresented with Chicago Humanities Festival

Imagine being 29 years old and unable to leave your country. Iranian Nassim Soleimanpour is a conscientious objector who refused to take part in military service, mandatory for all Iranian men. Soleimanpour turned his isolation to his advantage with a wild, utterly original play, an absurdist adventure that blends comedy and drama. In White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, he distills the experience of an entire generation born amid the hardship of the Iran-Iraq war—computer-literate, well-informed young people who have never known an Iran other than the Islamic Republic.

With no director, no set, and a different guest performer each night, this play is performed by distinct Chicago actors reading a script they see for the first time as they step onstage in front of a live audience. Using a menagerie of allegorical animals, the play is “not about Iran,” but grapples with the social phenomena of power, obedience, and manipulation.

Will you participate? Will you be manipulated? Will you listen? Will you really listen?

Performers for White Rabbit, Red Rabbit are Usman Ally, Fawzia Mirza, Yasen Peyankov, and Michael Shannon. Please note that you won't know which actor is performing on the night of your ticket; that's part of the intrigue. If you want to guarantee that you see a particular actor, you have to purchase tickets to attend all four performances

Running time: 60 minutes

Kevin Whately, White Rabbit Red Rabbit

Image courtesy of Aurora Nova Productions

A thoughtful, playful response to oppression.

—Guardian, UK

Artists Up Close

First Night Talks

  • NOV 3–5 & 9

Following every performance the audience members are invited to participate in a moderated post-show discussion. The invited moderators are Jamil Khoury (Founding Artistic Director, Silk Road Rising); Katie Watson (Second City; Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine); Nejla Yasmina Yatkin (ny2dance); and Narimon Safavi (WBEZ contributor, Worldview; National Iranian-American Council).

About the Artists

Best known for his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit,Nassim Soleimanpouris an independent multidisciplinary theater maker from Tehran, Iran. Written to travel the world when he couldn't, the work has been awarded the Dublin Fringe Festival Best New Performance, Summerworks Outstanding New Performance Text Award and The Arches Brick Award (Edinburgh Fringe, and has also been nominated for a Total Theatre and Brighton Fringe Pick of Edinburgh Award). He most recently participated as a panelist for the World Theatre FestivalIn Conversation series in Brisbane Australia. Currently developing a new play, Soleimanpour lives happily in Tehran with his wife and new puppy.

Usman Ally is an actor, writer and director. He is best known for his recurring role as Nassim Marwat in Damages. Recent Chicago appearances include Disgraced at American Theater Company.

Fawzia Mirza is a Chicago-based actor. Recent stage appearances include the world premiere plays Teddy Ferrara and The Happiest Song Plays Last at The Goodman Theatre. Other Chicago theater credits include In the Heart of America with Theatre Seven, Dental Society Midwinter Meeting at 16th Street Theatre and the Jeff Award winning play Scorched at Silk Road Rising.

Yasen Peyankov is a member of Steppenwolf Theatre's ensemble. Memorable appearances at Steppenwolf include Morning Star, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Hysteria, and The Duel, produced in association with European Repertory, the Chicago company he cofounded. His translation of Chekhov's Ivanov, produced by European Repertory, was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Adaptation. Yasen was born in Varna, Bulgaria and trained at the The National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts of Sofia, Bulgaria.

Actor Michael Shannon was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Revolutionary Road. He is a regular on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. His performance in the 2011 film Take Shelter led to further critical acclaim, earning him the Saturn Award for Best Actor. He also played General Zod in the 2013 film Man of Steel.