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Displacement and Isolation in the time of Covid

Join us on Thursday 26 May for a panel discussion with Mammad Aidani, Reza Kaviani, Mehrfam Naimi, Mahdi Gholamshahidani and Ramin Montazeri who will talk about the process of conceiving, developing and staging I said this to the bird.

Please register for the event.

I said this to the bird

Four strangers, all Iranian men, congregate in the hall of a migrant resource centre somewhere in Melbourne. Their meeting coincides with a lifting of public health restrictions that have prohibited social gatherings and kept the city silent and in lockdown, for many weeks. While all residents of the city have suffered during this unprecedented period of immobility, for recently arrived asylum seekers and refugees, the enforced isolation has been an especially gruelling and emotionally turbulent ordeal. 

In their coming together at the migrant resource centre, Arjang, Wahid, Hamed and Noshan take the audience through a rollercoaster of emotions, from anxiety, to hostility, paranoia, alienation, anger, cut across by brief moments of hope and exhilaration. I said this to the bird confronts its audience with the destabilising experience of being displaced and othered, the frailty and thinness of friendship, and the challenges of enduring unrelenting loneliness and abandonment. Amid such psychologically unsettling circumstances, there is palpable relief in small moments that dissolve this anxious intensity—in recalled memories of home, in glimpses of laughter and love, in wrestling with writing to give voice to unspeakable experiences, and for one man, in conversations with a bird who provides a constant ear at a time when there is no one else to listen. 

In this one-act performance, playwright Mammad Aidani brings to life the culmination of two years of therapeutic improvisational work and writing workshops he has undertaken with the project’s participants, Reza Kaviani, Mehrfam Naemi, Asgher Mirhoseini and Farhad Bakhshi. The play will be performed by Reza Kaviani, Mehrfam Naimi and Ramin Montazeri, and Mahdi Gholamshahidani.

Performances will follow on Thursday June 16, Friday June 17, Friday June 24, Saturday June 25. 

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Date: 26 May 2022
Time: 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm Location: Ashis Nandy Room

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Finding place after dislocation Mammad Aidani Projects for Coexistence



Mammad Aidani

is a playwright and theatre director and holds a PhD in hermeneutics, phenomenological and existential psychology and an MA in sociolinguistics. Mammad’s research focuses on Middle Eastern communities, especially Iranians who have experienced violence and torture, suffering in the diaspora, and have had to address forms of social and cultural alienation both in their home countries and the countries in which they have resettled in the West. Mammad’s theoretical work is concerned with the history of thought, hermeneutics and phenomenology, and the role of lived narratives and the formation of identity and memory in existential psychology. Mammad has taught on the latter with the Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy. Mammad’s Welcoming the Stranger: Narratives of Identity and Belonging in an Iranian Diaspora (Common Ground) was published in 2010, while Narrative and Violence: Ways of Suffering amongst Iranian Men in Diaspora (Routledge, 2020) has recently been reedited in paperback.

Reza Kaviani

was born in Iran and migrated to Australia in 2013. Though working in the industrial sector with an engineering background, Reza has always had an interest in theatre and acting and in 2013 he joined the Baran Theatre group in Meanjin/Brisbane. In recent years Reza has participated in several short films and plays.

Mehrfam Naimi

is a Baha’i Iranian refugee. Mehrfam left Iran when he was 16 years old, and would spend three years in Turkey waiting to gain refugee status in order to come to Australia. During this time, he turned to literature and writing. In 2021 he published his first novel Kahrizak.

Mahdi Gholamshahidani

was born in Tehran, Iran. He gained his Bachelor in Information Technology from the Melbourne Polytechnic. Mahdi’s family has always had a keen interested in Iranian arts. Mahdi runs a regular film review podcast. This is Mahdi’s first theatrical experience.

Mohammad Montazeri Kordi

(Ramin) has been involved in theatre since he was 17 years old. In his city of birth, Abadan (Iran), Ramin contributed to televsion and radio programs. He is currently part of the Radio 3zzz Persian program team, has participated with Melbourne Theatre Playback, performed with choral groups and recently established 4panjereh, a Persian radio station. Ramin is working on his first creative writing project in Persian. Ramin came to Australia as an asylum seeker in 2013.