Tuesday, 30 August 2011

AUDIO: BBC Feature (Edinburgh)

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit was featured on the BBC's The Culture Show. Check it out here (about 44 minutes in).

ROUNDUP: The Guardian at Edinburgh Fringe

The Guardian posted its list of highs and lows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe recently. White Rabbit, Red Rabbit made the cut under "The very weighty topics award." Neat.

You can see the full list here.

AWARD: Arches Brick Award

Congratulations Nassim! White Rabbit, Red Rabbit has received a 2011 Arches Brick Award.

Many thanks to Jackie and LJ for saving a seat an empty seat for the playwright in the front row. :)

VOICES: Twitter Audiences Have Their Say (part 5)







REVIEW: DarkChat (Edinburgh)

DarkChat Edinburgh, Edinburgh Fringe
You can see all of the DarkChat reviews here.

This year I have taken the decision to try and see more drama than usual. This has proved a master-stroke as " A Clockwork Orange", " The Dark Philosophers" and " The Ten Plagues" were all stunning in their different ways. So, despite, the inconvenience of rushing to the other end of town (St George's West) from our flat at an early (ish) start we were intrigued by what would follow. We were greeted by a member of the production team who handed over the envelope containing the script to today's actor, Pip Upton. Although he is known for his one-man shows on the fringe he looked naturally concerned about what he had let himself in for.

It was left to the playwright via the script to explain what we were about to witness. Nassim Soleimanpour wrote the play in Iran but as he refused to join up for National Service he was ineligible for a passport and couldn't travel. However, he was determined to be part of the performance and requested (and was granted) that a seat was left vacant for him. Similarly, he arranged for the audience to number themselves and get involved. It was up to me to announce the full date and frankly after six days here I was struggling to remember my name but somehow I got through. I was more fortunate than others who came on stage to impersonate the rabbits of the title.

The crux of the piece revolves around the possibility of the actor drinking a glass of poison, unlikely but as we were ushered out of the theatre by another member of the audience you could have heard a pin drop. Since there has been no mention of Mr Upton's demise in the Scotsman I assume he survived. This is an outstandingly riveting and disconcerting play. It does make you realise how much we take our freedom for granted, yet conversely it shows how small the world is nowadays. We were all encouraged to contact Nassim by email or Facebook (assuming he is still alive) to let him know how the show went. This is the kind of show you can only really see at Edinburgh. GO!

FACES: Rabbits on Aug. 26 (Edinburgh)

Take a look at the Rabbits in Edinburgh on August 26 (photo by Mallory Catlett).


EMAIL: Bobbin Ramsey (Edinburgh)

The following email was sent to Nassim Soleimanpour by Bobbin Ramsey after seeing the show in Edinburgh.

Hello Nassim,

Earlier today I saw a reading of your play, White Rabbit, Red Rabbit as part of the Edinburgh Fringe festival. I am an American student from Seattle, Washington and I have been studying theater here for the past month and seen over 30 shows. I have seen every type of show, some I absolutely loved and others that were a struggle, but when it came to White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, it affected me in a very different way than any of the other performances I have seen. Your presence in the room was so clear the entire time and your voice permeated every layer that is separating us from you. I want to thank you for offering me a completely new theater and life experience. It is truly amazing to me how much people can affect each other overseas and land and everything in between.

My theater company is very interested in doing a reading of this at our University this year and we were hoping to get your permission to perform it. Do you have a process for paying for rights or royalties? We are very eager to share this unique experience with the Seattle community!

And please share more of your writings with the world! I look forward to hearing more of your stories and unique perspective!

Thank you, Nassim, male, 30 years old, Iranian, 168 cm tall with (lots of) black hair, greenish-blue eyes and no passport (I was the note taker!). Today's experience was very meaningful to me.

Bobbin Ramsey

EMAIL: Joseph Shaw (Edinburgh)

The following email was sent to Nassim Soleimanpour by Joseph Shaw after seeing the show in Edinburgh (twice!).

Dear Nassim,

I have just gotten back to my flat in Edinburgh after seeing your play for
the second time here at the Fringe Festival. It has taken me on a
transformative journey: I started out a helpless participant, clean. Now I
have been marked red. I've been here for all of August on a study abroad
with the University of Washington in Seattle, seeing about 30 shows in
total. There have been many great plays, but yours was my favorite. Thank
you for this unique piece of art.

For my first viewing two days ago, I was lucky enough to be number 3 - the
White Rabbit. Our actor's name was Alexis, and I can't remember his last
name, but his performance was excellent. I quite enjoyed being given the
instructions and playing the disruptive white rabbit, and so your comment on
compliancy hit me that much harder - like a bucket of ice-cold water. I went
home and told my fellow students they must see your play. Hence, the second
viewing.

Today, six of my friends joined me for another show, and it was read
wonderfully by playwright David Greig. My heart pounded as I hopped up on
stage again, this time to be the Red Rabbit at the finale. I took your
script home and I can't wait to study it. This being your first play in
English, I am astounded by your command of the language - it is one of the
best-written plays I've encountered, because your presence is tangible in
every word.

I am on the executive board for the Undergraduate Theater Society (UTS) - a
student-run company at U of Washington, and a few of my colleagues are here
at the Fringe as well, and we were all moved by your play. With that said, I
would like to extend a formal request on behalf of UTS for the rights to
have it performed in Seattle, by student actors like ourselves (but of
course, not those of us who have seen it). It was an eye-opening experience
for us, and we would be honored to take it home and share it with our
community.

Again, a most sincere thank you.

Joseph Shaw
Graphic Designer,
Undergraduate Theater Society

FACES: Rabbits on Aug. 28 (Edinburgh)

The following photo was sent by Richard Ross after the August 28 performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at Edinburgh Fringe.


FACES: Rabbits on Aug. 27 (Edinburgh)

Dear Nassim,

My name is Amit I was today's audience photographer during White Rabbit, Red Rabbit.
27th August 2011.
Take care friend

Amit


REVIEW: ThreeWeeks (Edinburgh)

ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, Edinburgh Fringe Festival

4 stars (out of 5)

"It is fascinating to observe the actor become taken aback by the actions the writer has scripted. Yet despite the thought-provoking nature of the play, the writer’s sense of humour also shines through in a series of bizarre episodes to delight the audience. A truly captivating and powerful piece of theatre."

Read the full review here

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

VOICES: Rosie's Blog (Edinburgh)

Rosie Cunningham has shared a great description of her Edinburgh Fringe experience and the night she ended up onstage in White Rabbit, Red Rabbit.


"Edinburgh itself is swarming with people in a way not seen at any other time of the year. Walking anywhere at speed is a constant struggle of human shunting, pushing and dodging. A bicycle is more a hazard than a help and I would go so far as to say that the more slender you are, the better your festival experience -- much less of you to become squashed and all the easier to slip between slower visitors."


White Rabbit, Red Rabbit (with Thom Tuck as the actor) was "intoxicating." You can read the full posting here.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

AWARD: Nominated for Brighton Festival Fringe Pick of Edinburgh

Congratulations to Nassim and the team! White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at the Edinburgh Fringe has been nominated for the Brighton Festival Fringe Pick of Edinburgh Award. Fingers crossed!

You can learn more about the Brighton Festival Fringe here.

Monday, 22 August 2011

EMAIL: Rosie Cunningham (Edinburgh)

The following email was sent to Nassim Soleimanpour by Rosie Cunningham after seeing the show in Edinburgh on August 19.


Hi Nassim,

My name is Rosie and I had the good fortune to see your play, White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, on Friday. It was performed at the Edinburgh Festival. I was person number 9 (the bear), but also ended up being the new red rabbit who read the end of the play (and I got to keep the script, of course). I thoroughly enjoyed every minute and the crazy journey we all took together as an audience. The tension towards the closing pages was immense and thoughts of it have stayed with me every day since.

Please find attached the photo I took of the white rabbits from that performance. The actor is holding the script - and in case you're worried, he didn't die in the end. Anyway, I hope you're well and that receiving this email is as entertaining and meaningful as it was for me to see your play. I hope that seeing this photo feels like traveling abroad - the experience for me was like falling down a rabbit hole.

Thank you,
Rosie

FACES: A Family of Rabbits (Edinburgh)

Snapped by Anneke Jansen (Fringe Amsterdam) in Edinburgh, actor Tim Crouch poses with the evenings rabbits, including his son Joey (second from the left).


VOICES: Twitter Audiences Have Their Say (part 4)






Friday, 19 August 2011

EMAIL: Nassim and Lida Nosrati (Toronto)

The following is an email exchange between Nassim Soleimanpour and Lida Nosrati (aka #3) after the August 14 performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at SummerWorks

Dear Nassim,

I caught the last show of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit in Toronto on Sunday, August 14. And I was simply enchanted! I had my reservations about seeing the play when I first read the publicity blurb. I thought to myself, oh no, yet another victimizing narrative by a 29-year-old Iranian "unable to leave his country," "forbidden to travel," "isolated." But as soon as the play started, no even before it did, when the producer gave the sealed envelope to the actor (the brilliant Yanna McIntosh) I knew you proved me wrong and thank you immensely for doing that.

Little did I know that I would be the white rabbit who goes to the theatre where she meets the bear who asks her for a ticket which she doesn't have and is generously donated by an unknown friend, another member of the audience...Ever since that day, I keep asking myself, what would have happened had I not been number three? Or had I simply refused to take the stage -- which would have been a more natural response from me, because being on the stage terrifies me. Or had I been the red rabbit? Or the note-taker? Or the man who frantically ran down the stairs to snatch the two glasses of water away from the actor's hands? Or simply someone who was not chosen, thinking all the while s/he could have acted better? All these questions are immaterial now. The play unfolded the way it should have. What matters is that your text has stirred a whole lot of questions about life, death, choices, decisions, or lack thereof. It's long since I had seen a work so thought-provoking yet so simple, clean and unpretentious.

A heartfelt congratulations. And looking forward to your future works.

Number Three (also known as Lida Nosrati)

p.s. And I too, like most of us, have chosen the 18th way. It was Susan Sontag who wrote in her journals that "Life is suicide, mediated."

***************************************************
*******************************

Dear Lida,

Sometimes you write something to change a small point inside your mind or heart. You are mad at yourself or the world outside. You are mad because you felt in love with the wrong person or you lost your camera in a subway. People do different things in such situations. Some people talk to a friend, some people drink alcohol, some jump to stage or break a glass of water.

There are some people who decide to write a play. That's their response to what they don't like. That's their immune system.

I wrote WRRR to change a small point in my mind and now it's changing bigger things in my life. Isn't it strange? There is even a dialogue between the text and the writer's life.

Look at these beautiful e-mails I'm receiving. Look at this blog. An audience e-mailed me and asked me if this blog is a part of the play. He thought the interaction between me, my actors and the audience is still running in the net and it was planned beforehand in my play. I said: "I don't know. This is not me who is writing this play, not anymore."

Walter Benjamin once said: "The work is the death mask of its conception." And I hope this Rabbit who was born more recently lives long.

Lots of love,
Nassim

Thursday, 18 August 2011

AWARD: Shortlisted for Total Theatre Award

Congrats again, Nassim! White Rabbit, Red Rabbit has been shortlisted for a Total Theatre Award in Edinburgh under the category of Innovation and Experimentation.

The full list of nominees can be found here. Brilliant work!

EMAIL: Tom Frankland (Edinburgh)

The following email was sent to Nassim Soleimanpour by actor Tom Frankland after he performed White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at the Edinburgh Fringe on August 16.

Dear Nassim,

I hope that you have been receiving many, many emails over the past few weeks as your play is performed in Scotland and Canada.

I was your actor today (Tues 16th Aug) at the Edinburgh venue. My name is Tom Frankland and I am 32. I am 5'10" and have thick shoulder length fair hair and a beard, I am pretty skinny. I wore jeans and white sneakers and a brown shirt with blue stars on it. I have a very plain English accent. My ostrich impression was fantastic, but was definitely overshadowed by that of the rabbit. I drank the poisoned glass, but nobody tried to stop me. The final reader was slow to volunteer, but then did a beautiful job. She was about 19, short hair and a Northern English accent. Her name is Louisa.

I thought the play was brilliant. It was a really strange experience to be both an observer and the performer at the same time, but your voice is so strong in the piece, it felt very easy to let you lead the way. I find it hard to imagine the circumstances under which you are trying to make theatre when we have so much freedom to say what we think here (I am on my way out this evening to watch another artist perform a piece in direct opposition to the way our government is acting at the moment and I do so without fear of Bears or other Rabbits). I hope that work like yours continues to get made and to communicate what is happening to the world outside and that your situation becomes easier and safer. If I can ever help, let me know...

I am in Edinburgh performing in a play called 'Free Time Radical' about two men who isolate themselves in a flat and pretend that they are the victims of a huge natural disaster in order to escape problems in their real lives. They play games and skateboard and talk about surfing and hide from reality. For the audience, the fact that the disaster is pretend is only revealed during the course of the show. We were inspired to make the piece as a response to the many atrocities and disasters occurring across the world that we feel powerless and overwhelmed to do anything about. About our guilt for placing our own crisis points above those of others. We need to figure out ways of working together to help each other.

Anyway, thank you for welcoming me onto the stage and congratulations on the piece, you received another great review today in a festival magazine!

Many regards,

Tom

EMAIL: Corrie McKendrick (Edinburgh)

The following email was sent to Nassim Soleimanpour by Corrie McKendrick, who saw White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at the Edinburgh Fringe. 


(PS: Corrie plans to submit a textual analysis of WR,RR as part of her audition for the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama - best of luck, Corrie!!)

Nassim Soleimanpour,

I hope this email reaches you, after seeing White Rabbit, Red Rabbit on Sunday I knew straight away that I wanted to email you and thank you so much for this amazing, insightful piece of theatre you created. I found the text and the stories to be extremely poignant and they really opened my eyes to what your life must be like. It is easily one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen and for that I can't possibly thank you enough. If this is what all of your work is like I urge you to keep on creating, you have an immense talent that would be a crime to not be allowed to continually flourish. I hope this email has conveyed the gratitude that was the intention behind it.

Kindest Regards, Your Red Rabbit of the final few pages,
Corrie McKendrick

FACES: Rabbits in Edinburgh

Rabbits from the August 18 performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit in Edinburgh:


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

FACES: More Images from Toronto

Take a look at these rabbits from the August 6 performance at SummerWorks, with Eric Peterson as the night's actor.

Eric Peterson's rabbit face

Rabbits at SummerWorks (August 6)

ROUNDUP: Critical Reception for WR,RR

Fest ****
"Infinitely subtle"

Torontoist ****
"a theatrical experience unlike any we've had before"

Total Theatre Review
"A twisted magic trick... innovative"

Joyce McMillan (Scotsman) ****
"unique...urgent"

NOW Magazine (Toronto) ****
"Unpredictable... fascinating"

OUTSTANDING NEW PERFORMANCE TEXT
SummerWorks Theatre Festival 2011, Toronto

VOICES: More Thoughts from Facebook

Take a look at more of the feedback that Nassim has received on Facebook (you can get in touch with him too!)





REVIEW: Total Theatre Review (Edinburgh)

Total Theatre Review Brighton, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

"Watching rabbits...This becomes the starting-point for a theatrical experience that makes the audience into rabbits and metaphorical guinea pigs. Given numbers, people come forward to play parts that explore trust, cunning, human nature. The format creates some unusual moments, which will never be repeated and are made by amateurs. It is oddly moving when they make perfect sense."

Read the full review here.

Monday, 15 August 2011

EMAIL: Fiona Elliott (Edinburgh)

The following email was sent to Nassim Soleimanpour by Fiona Elliott after seeing the show at the Edinburgh Fringe

Dear Nassim,

I was today's Red Rabbit in Edinburgh - and I have taken the script home with me. Thank you! I just thought you would like to know - after I had guided the audience out, I saw that the actor was still lying on the stage with his eyes shut - I thought it was a shame that he had no applause, so I went back into the theatre and leaned over him and said, "Well done, actor!" but he didn't move or speak, he just went on lying there with his eyes shut. I thought that was a very good sign, and I thought you would be pleased.

I enjoyed meeting you - even although we couldn't actually see each other - it was interesting, and I am sure I would recognize you if we did one day meet!

with very best wishes

Fiona

VIDEO: Yanna McIntosh Does The Ostrich (Toronto)

When performing White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, actors are given a list of instructions 48 hours in advance of the show. They don't get to see a script, but they are told they need to "prepare an ostrich impersonation."

Here's what Yanna McIntosh came up with...

video

REVIEW: Fest Magazine (Edinburgh)

Fest Magazine Edinburgh, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

4 stars (out of 5)

"It is a completely democratic room because the performer is making all their choices at the moment of reading them. Sometimes, she is genuinely surprised by the actions she is asked to do, and by the ones she is asking us to carry out. What will playwright Nassim Soleimanpour ask us to do next?"

Read the full review here.

EMAIL: Matt White (Toronto)

Necessary Angel Associate Producer Matt White saw the opening performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at SummerWorks on August 5. Here are the thoughts he shared with Nassim and the team:

Hey everyone,

We had a great first show last night!  After reading it a few times it was amazing to see it with an audience.  When the five "rabbits" got up to act out the uncle's experiment the gentleman who climbed the ladder actually tried to do so as an actual rabbit.  That's what I call a dedicated audience member :) 

Truly fantastic moment with the water.  When the "white rabbit" audience member asked if anyone had anything to say before Tara was to drink one of the glasses of water another audience member jumped up took the glasses from her and dumped them out on stage.  It was wonderful.  And yet, of course I'm sitting there going, how do we finish the play?  But Tara pointed out there was still a little more water at the bottom of the glass and continued on to drink it before lying down. 

I think what contributed to making it such a wonderful moment for me personally was the complete shattering of my expectation in the final moments of the piece.  In that moment I felt disoriented by this audience's member's action of "saving" Tara by not passively watching her potentially "kill" herself.

Thank you, Nassim, for writing this play.  It's honesty is disarming.  And the experience of watching it is something wholly exciting and reinvigorating.  Ultimately the piece leaves my hopeful for humans.
I am very proud to be a part of this.

I hope you all have a great day!
Talk soon,
Matt

AWARD: WRRR Wins Best New Performance Text at SummerWorks

A special congratulations to Nassim Soleimanpour for receiving SummerWorks' Best New Performance Text award! An incredible way to end the run in Toronto. Kudos!

Ross Manson and Neema Bickersteth showing Nassim his award in Toronto

FACES: Closing Weekend at SummerWorks (Toronto)

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit closed at Toronto's SummerWorks this weekend with a stirring performance by Yanna McIntosh. Congratulations to all our actors for their bravery and dedication, and to the audiences who made this show possible.

Yanna McIntosh with Toronto's final Red Rabbit on August 14, 2011

The final performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at SummerWorks

VOICES: Note Taking at SummerWorks (Toronto)


VOICES: Twitter Audiences Have Their Say (part 3)

Toronto audiences love Twitter. Here's more of what they had to say during closing weekend of SummerWorks...







Friday, 12 August 2011

VOICES: Twitter Audiences Have Their Say (part 2)

More buzz from the Twitterverse:




EMAIL: Itai Erdal (Edinburgh)

The following email was sent to Nassim Soleimanpour by Itai Erdal after seeing the show at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Dear Nassim,

I just saw your play in Edinburgh and I absolutely loved it. I work in theatre (take a look at my web site if you wanna see what I do) and I've seen hundreds of plays in my life and this is one of the bravest and most exciting plays I've ever seen. I wish I could meet you - I feel close to you in a strange way. I am originally from israel and I understand political pressure. I admire your courage, I hope you won't get in trouble for this.

Please write me back and let's stay in touch and maybe one day we can meet. I have been living in Canada for the past 12 years and I have a Canadian passport so maybe I can come to Iran one day. Or even better - maybe one day you'll become a famous playwright and leave Iran and I can light your play.

Thank you for this beautiful play - it's the best thing I've seen in a long long time.

Take care,

Itai
 

EMAIL: Eliza Cornwell (Edinburgh)

The following email was sent to Nassim Soleimanpour from Eliza Cornwell after seeing the show at the Edinburgh Fringe.


Hi!

My name is Eliza Cornwell, and I live in Edinburgh, Scotland. I'm working for the summer at a theatre venue called Remarkable Arts. Yesterday I got to sit in and watch White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, which I thought was absolutely amazing!

I've seen a lot of shows in the Edinburgh Festival and yours was definitely one of the best. Everybody who has seen in at my work has come out of the show with a smile and have raved about it. So i just wanted to email to say keep up the writing because you are obviously very talented!

Thank you for giving me such a great experience,

Eliza Cornwell
 

Thursday, 11 August 2011

EMAIL: Natasha Greenblatt (Toronto)

The following email was sent by Toronto actress Natasha Greenblatt to Nassim Soleimanpour after her performance at SummerWorks on August 9. 

Dear Nassim,

Yesterday, Tuesday, August 9th, I was the actress in your play WhiteRabbit, Red Rabbit in Toronto. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences I have ever had. To have no idea what I was about to do. To read your words for the first time out loud in front of an audience. To hear your story coming out of my mouth. I felt like both the object of an experiment and a top secret spy.

Thank you.

I live in Toronto, Canada. I am 26. I am also a writer. I love to travel. I can't imagine not being able to do so, not having a passport. Let alone how it must be to be a woman in Iran. Are you married, do you have a sister? What is your life like?

You asked to be emailed, and so I am emailing you. I don't really know what to say. I have a ton of questions, but you don't need to answer them if you don't want. Mostly I want to convey how honoured I was to be a part of your play. One day I would love to meet you and tell you so in person. I would love to come to Iran. I would love for you to one day come to Toronto.

Thank you,

Natasha Greenblatt

FACES: Onstage in Edinburgh (part 2)

More images of some of the brave actors who have taken on White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at the Edinburgh Fringe...

Sandy Grierson

Sarah Pascoe

Ravi Jain

Libby King


REVIEW: Panic Manual (Toronto)

Panic Manual Toronto, SummerWorks

"It is rare that an audience leaves a theatre with concern for an actor's safety. I think most people who left Theatre Centre Saturday nigh with that feeling also left feeling dazed and stunned by what they'd just seen. I certainly did."

Brian from Panic Manual reviewed the August 6 performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at SummerWorks. Read the full article here.

QUESTIONS: The Guardian Discusses Spectatorship (Edinburgh)

"Oscar Wilde once said: "My play was a complete success. The audience was a failure." But what is a successful audience? A passive spectator who says nothing, whatever happens on stage, and who applauds at all the right moments? Surely a good audience could never be one whose members storm the stage and disrupt the action - or could it?"

Lyn Gardner at the Guardian has observed that a number of plays featured at the Edinburgh Fringe, including White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, are raising questions about the role of the audience in a theatre experience.

What are your thoughts? How did you feel as an audience member at White Rabbit, Red Rabbit? If a play wants to push the limits of audience interaction, can it ever go to far?

You can read the full Guardian article here. 

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

VOICES: Thoughts From Facebook



FACES: Onstage in Toronto

The following images were taken on August 9 at the Theatre Centre in Toronto as part of SummerWorks. (actor: Natasha Greenblatt)

Natasha and #5

Natasha Greenblatt

More Toronto Rabbits

Rabbit Faces

Natasha Greenblatt

Tonight's Red Rabbit

The Red Rabbit takes the stage

The audience speaks