we could think We are in Paris or New York, but the actors are singing in Persian, and it is in a luxury hotel in Tehran that Les Misérables are packed. Curious spectacle in this capital of an islamic Republic concerned about the”cultural invasion” of the west. Jean Valjean, inspector Javert, Gavroche, Cosette, Marius, Fantine and the Thénardiers have long had the freedom of the city in Iran, where the first translation of the Miserable of Victor Hugo has been published in magazines in 1910. For the supreme leader of iran himself, ayatollah Ali Khamenei, this is a book “stupendous” on “the kindness, love and affection”.

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Binavayan ( Les Misérables in Persian) has already been the subject of many movies, cartoons and comic strips in Iran, but the adaptation of the masterpiece hugolien in musical comedy is not self-evident to Tehran, where the censorship scrupulously on the arts. “In all the scenes, the women wear wigs”, indicates an insert outlined in red on a poster promoting. Useful precision because the appearance of a real wick of female hair on stage is the kind of incident that may jeopardize the holding of a show.

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But how to mount a musical in a country that prohibits women from dancing in public or singing a solo in front of men? The director, Hossein Parsaï, was for five years head of the department of performing arts at the ministry of Culture and Guidance islamic and knows very well what he is allowed to do or not. The idea for the show germinated in his mind a dozen years ago while he was leaving a representation of Oliver Twist (after Dickens) in London, he said to the AFP.

A director very aware of the rules of censorship in Iran

“I remember being asked bitterly why we didn’t have musicals in Iran. The question depressed me for several days. And then I promised myself that one day I monterais a,” says the director.

The dream takes shape by the end of 2017 with its representation of Oliver Twist for several weeks at the Vahdat hall, an opera of more than 700 seats to be constructed under the Shah. In comparison, Les Misérables has the air of a blockbuster, with 150 musicians and singers and as actors. All Iranians. The room chosen, the Royal Hall of the Espinas Palace, a luxurious hotel on the heights of Tehran, taking 2,500.

Despite the criticism, the success is waiting for you

For the iranian public, Hossein Parsaï has adapted the british version of the origin of the international success of the musical, initially created in 1980 in Paris by the French director Robert Hossein. Since the first, on the 11th of October, the success is at the rendezvous, with six performances weekly.

The room was, therefore, extended until the end of January, despite of the virus attacks several newspapers. “ Les Misérables seen by the rich”, thus the headline in the newspaper the reformer Sazandegi . The director readily acknowledges that with tickets sold between 500,000 and 1.85 million rials (4 to 16 euros approximately), the show is not accessible to all budgets.

The daily ultraconservateur Javan has published a critique of the piece entitled “Entry forbidden for the wretched”. He also warned against the”invasion” of a “bourgeois theatre” that ends up “corrupting any cultural value, moral, or artistic”.

But Hossein Parsaï, the Victor Hugo novel is a “masterpiece without borders” that “speaks to all times” and thus “also in Tehran today,” judge he. “There is a question of the divisions of classes, the disintegration of society and poverty, the things that exist today,” he adds. This is a serious warning, a reminder to viewers that other classes exist and that we have the duty to see them.”

choreography requires a degree of restraint, the actors do not touch

The Royal Hall with no pit, the orchestra has been installed on a mezzanine above the stage. The decor, pretty minimalist, is supported by the play of light and video projected on the stage. The costumes, very neat and colorful, the are probably a little too much for some of the characters supposed to come from the shallows of the society. “Vive la France” were sung in French in the scenes relating to the insurrection republican of June 1832 in Paris.

To pass the censorship, the choreography requires a degree of restraint in the dance, and the actors do not touch each other. And to compensate for the ban on female vocals in solo, a woman in black in which one does not distinguish the face appears intermittently on the garden side: it is supposed to support mezza voce singing of the actress on stage.

of Course, most actors had no experience singing before this show, and it feels. But regardless of these details, the crowd of spectators was conquered and reserve a standing ovation to the artists. In the audience, Mehdi Houchyar, entrepreneur, thirty-something, dare to be a parallel between the present protest movement the French of the “yellow vests” and the parisian uprising of 1832. “After 200 years, it recurs in France. It is well, it proves that the revolution is still alive,” he says.

Hossein Parsaï, thinks of the result. After you have brought “Broadway” in Iran, it would now extend the genus to works in iran, such as those of the poet Rumi, who lived six centuries before Hugo.