Thursday, 15 March 2012

EMAIL: Allison Zwozdesky (Calgary)


I am Allison Zwodesky and I am writing you today to say that our class was privileged in being able to perform part of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit. Playwright Ken Cameron is our teacher and he introduced us to your work by having us dive right into it just as it has been written to be performed.

I played the role of the Actor. Nassim your play is remarkable. I can honestly say that I have not felt this urgency, this desperation, this deeply true and real emotion on stage before this opportunity to read your work. I am a 24 year old female growing up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and we performed part of your play on March 9th, 2012. I know that it is the Tuesday post performance and I apologize for writing to you so late after but I am very stuck on how to explain the impact and magnitude of intellect that I found in your piece. As "this girl" reading your play out loud I was really really taken away with the strength and blatant honesty with your piece. We had a blast playing the circus and everyone was very willing! I am very impressed that you motivated the exchange of money for the sake of performance! Nassim all of us were very quiet after the performance. As the Actor I was extremely moved and near tears through the script that we read. I wish so badly we could have done the entire performance. I am left with so many questions about myself, about geography and freedom, about perspective and contrasts. Your work I must say again is so very strong. I really respect how you have created this show, please know I respect you so very much. Thank you very much for this beautiful art. I hope so deeply that you can travel one day very soon, to see your performance, to see it affecting everyone it touches, to see the world.

I wish you every bit of success!!!

Thank you so much again.

-Allison Zwozdesky

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

EMAIL: Philip Thorne and Oystein Brager (Oslo)

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit just wrapped up in Oslo. Here are some final thoughts from Philip and Oystein of Imploding Fictions

Hello Nassim,

The final performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit has just finished.

Over the last week more than 250 people have seen your play, been moved, touched, provoked and entertained by it. The feedback we have received has been astounding.

We are also surprised how much we've learnt as directors, by a project that required no direction! Seeing the meeting of this text with six different spaces and performers gave us a master-class about actors, audiences, spontaneity, nerves, liveness and stage presence. It was wonderful to see how the text was transformed by six very different actors; fascinating to witness how different audiences determined the flavour of the show as much as the performers; thrilling how each performance always contained at least one major surprise! And to see how the framing of the show -- how we introduced it, how we shaped the audience entrance and exit, what we said to the performer beforehand -- how even such minor things brought about subtle changes. And how despite all this, certain patterns emerged, and how certain moments always found a similar impact.

Thank you for giving us plenty to discuss, laugh and think about.

We will send you a show report about the last performance soon, but right now we have to drink with the rabbits! All six performers are joining us to celebrate what has been a wonderful performance adventure!

We hope we can collaborate again at some point. And, although your presence here was closely felt over the past week, to see you in person next time.

Philip and Oystein

(Oslo International Theatre / Imploding Fictions)

Friday, 9 March 2012

EMAIL: Sveinung Oppegaard (Oslo)

The following email was sent to Nassim Soleimanpour following a performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit in Oslo.


First, I want to thank you for a beautifully written and beautiful "letter"!

As you must have guessed already, I was given the honourable assignment of being no. 5 in your play, which I will come back to later in MY letter to YOU.

I have seen a handful of plays with a political/moral message, but none of them have spoken directly to me the way you do in your letter. The fact that you leave the play COMPLETELY open for ANYTHING to take place within the frame you preset for the play, was immensely powerful - here is where "being no.5" comes in. The fundamentally most powerful moment in the play for me was when the actor has the two glasses beside her, one of which I have "poisoned" with my own hands. Even though I was sure she hadn't changed them when we closed our eyes I had NO way to be 100% sure.

So I was faced with an immense moral dilemma, should I stop the actor, or should I let her drink from the glass I am 98.8% sure is the safe glass?

IF she drinks from the poisoned glass, I will become a killer! I was the one to pour the poison, I stirred it out and I put the glass back on the table!

What baffled me was that the solution to the dilemma didn't appear until the END of the show, which by the way was presented to me by you, DON'T fill the glass with poison. If this is something I had to do to keep the play going, well, I would drink both glasses myself. But none of these solutions is to any use if I can't make a Choice for myself, to actually DO one of the two, and this is what moved me so. I have started a journey within myself to change the passive and opinionated SPECTATOR in me, to an active, opinionated participator.

I truly hope you are alive and well! Your country and people need you, the world needs you, to keep your message ongoing and give us more beautiful and meaningful letters!

Thank you for lighting the lamp over a - up until now - closed door!

Best wishes, and hope to keep in touch!

Sveinung Oppegaard

Oslo, Norway

VOICES: Lise Grimnes (Oslo)

Blogger Lise Grimnes has shared her thoughts on White Rabbit, Red Rabbit's Oslo run. Visit her blog for the original post (in Norwegian) or check out the translation below:

Presence within White Rabbit, Red Rabbit

There is a young playwright in Iran. His name is Nassim Soleimanpour. He cannot travel out of his country, but now he does so anyway, and he does it in a fascinating manner. In 2010 he wrote a play, White Rabbit Red Rabbit, and Oslo International Theatre is sharing it with us. Two times this week I have been to see this show, and if you are at all interested in plays, performance or literature be sure to see the last show on Saturday. What happens is this: an actor walks onto stage where he finds an envelope. The actor does not know its contents before s/he opens it and starts to read. And it is Nassim Soleimanpour who is talking to us. It's powerful to experience such an intimate presence in a room, and that from someone who is not there. It truly becomes a dialogue between three parties; audience, playwright and actor. The latter becomes a kind of vessel for the playwright. Often the borders blur, and it is almost as if playwright and actor melt into one. Identity is manipulated right in front of our eyes. We are witness to how Nassim in Iran directly makes the audience in Oslo commit various actions. And it is him doing it, and not the text... well, at least that is how I perceived it. The show touches on many themes, but it is a very humane project - with a great intimacy between everyone present. And at the end you get something to think about... so much so that I for my part had to see it once more. And I still want to see it again. The last chance is Saturday at 19.00, that's tomorrow, at Det Andre Teatret in Oslo, where Mats Eldøen will open the envelope and be thrown into things he cannot yet foresee. Pretty heavy things too. But so good. And very funny. Have a great experience!

Det Andre Teatret:
Oslo International Theatre:

Lise Grimnes, KNIRK

Thursday, 8 March 2012

FACES: Rabbits in Oslo, March 7

Oslo, March 7, 2012

NOTES: March 7 in Oslo

Here are an audience member's notes from the March 7 performance in Oslo. Spoiler alert?

An empty chair for me in the first row

2 yrs military service – not done ‐ No passport – I must be careful / what do you look like? / Will you ever travel to Iran? 
29 years old, bloodtype 0+, 168 cm, 76 kg., hairy 
Help me feel I’m connected 
Orange trees so close, I can pick – a part of paradise ‐ 
My name is Nassim S 
I’m a boy 
Sara, a girl – 20 yrs old 
dec 10th 1981 (1360) 
Iranian neither offends nor satisfies me 
Today wednesday 7th of march 2012 
I write this, april 25th 2010 – Dream, write

something is common in all places 
my ignorance about you to write 
OSLO, groovy

In my imagined world, The communication needs an intermediate 
The person who is called an actor 
Save you because you are a red rabbit 
Let’s review the first ten minutes
You have the right to stand up and leave. 
I will remain among these sentences 
The police might call you tomorrow 
His death: Eat pork? Why is he so hairy? 
Who adviced you to see this play? 
DEAD – a street accident? MURDER case 

Do you remember that? 
supposed to be actual poison? That powder, salt or sugar? 
been stirred 
What matters is not knowing 
My cell phone rang, my uncle, I shot him. Sometimes I get scared. 
A trick: White rabbit, red rabbit


NOTETAKER #?? Oslo, march 7th 2012

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

EMAIL: Trine Nordkvelle (Oslo)

The following email was sent to Nassim Soleimanpour by Trine Nordkvelle after seeing a performance of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit in Oslo. 

Dear Writer,

I just wanted you to know that I attended your play White Rabbit, Red Rabbit in Oslo at "Litteraturhuset" ("The House of Literature") yesterday - the 5th of March 2012.

I really thought the story and the concept was brilliant, and it seemed like everyone enjoyed it. Everyone did as instructed as well!

Since I have not heard from the police yet, I guess the Actor lived.

Thank you for a really nice experience.

Yours sincerely,
The Notetaker
girl 27

(I hope I wrote down the correct email address)

INTERVIEW: Kate Pendry (Oslo)

Natt & Dag has posted an interview with Kate Pendry, who is performing White Rabbit, Red Rabbit in Norway with Oslo International Theater.

We've posted an English excerpt of the interview below. To read the full article (in Norwegian) click here.

How was it for you as an artist who is known for being in complete control of her work to subordinate yourself to this project?

In many ways I am still in complete control. I am alone on the stage and have the power to do whatever I want. But with this show I trusted myself and decided to dedicate myself completely to the project. I felt completely safe in the hands of Oystein Brager and the team of Oslo International Theatre. Their integrity is enormous and I didn't think for a second that my integrity would be threatened. I understood this was a very important play and was happy not to have to rehearse for it. It was thoroughly improvised and it felt very liberating. 

There is something very wrong with the premise of contemporary theatre. Theatre has not been able to develop alongside society at all. After 9/11 the world has moved in a very strange direction and changed into something unrecognisable. But theatre has not kept up with this changing world. Too often we just see projectors and multi media thrown at theatre in a bid to make it feel 'contemporary'. My God! But I think what happened here tonight with White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is a step in the right direction. A step towards a theatre that demands that the actor is completely aware and  highly attuned. I isolated myself for two months to prepare for this show. Exactly like an athlete an actor has to be in top form before the big game. 

Kate Pendry is a British writer, director and actor who is based in Norway and one of the country's leading experimental theatre makers. She is recipient of an Ibsen Award, the most prestigious theatre award in Norway.

Making News in Oslo - in English!

Here is the English translation of Nassim's interview with Dagblade, posted earlier this week.

Dangerous Iranian “Bunny Drama”
The Iranian Nassim Soleimanpour has attracted attention in country after country with his play White Rabbit Red Rabbit over the last year. Now it has arrived in Oslo.

What do you do as an Iranian playwright who is critical of the regime, subject to censorship and denied his passport and exit visa?

Answer: Write

Nassim Soleimanpour (30) wrote a sensational monologue play White Rabbit, Red Rabbit while he was unable to leave his hometown of Tehran. Last year it premiered in New York and was followed by a series of successful runs in Edinburgh and Toronto. Tonight it will be premiere in Oslo.

Who is in control?

Not surprisingly given the playwright's situation White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is about the individual confronted with controlling forces and raises uncomfortable questions about both those who control and those being controlled. Oslo International Theatre has initiated an ambitious collaboration with six of the city's theatres who will each host a performance of this play. 

Six different actors will be in the spotlight, and won't be given the text until the show begins. 

“The play is based on my own situation in the five years when I wrote it” says Nassim Soleimanpour. Over the telephone from Tehran he explains:

“Because I refused to serve a mandatory two-year military service, I was denied a passport. That's how it works in Iran, so I knew I would not be able to travel with my piece. So I decided to shape it as a kind of game that does not require rehearsals or directing. It requires only a text and a 'cold' actor  for each performance.

How did you get the play passed the Iranian state censorship?

“It wasn't going to play in Iran, and was therefore not a censorship issue. But as soon as you want to show or publish anything in Iran there are some rules and boundaries that you must consider.”

What can you say about the relationship between artists and the Iranian authorities in Tehran?

“It's a long and complex story. On the one hand it's not so bad, it's not like the government has guns pointed at the artists heads all the time. But you can't write what you want. There are censorship rules and it can be dangerous to defy them. But above all, Iran has entered a historical period where the main question is about something bigger and more important than the relationship between the government, the theatre and the arts: it's about ordinary the lives and existence of ordinary people.”

What about your situation now? Do you still not have a passport?

“I got a passport two months ago, after a long and stupid story. After White Rabbit, Red Rabbit became popular in New York, I started to get good feedback from all over the world, and the play was eventually produced in so many countries that I decided to do the military service after all. Because of an injury to my left eye, I was rejected, but I got the passport.”

Are you developing new shows?

“Yes, two. One is a collaboration with a Greek friend who lives in Canada, the other is a monologue based on the structure of the party game Mafia. The first I started before "rabbits", but it's a long process, and I don't know when either of them will be finished.”

Live Messaging from Oslo...

From: Kristian Bålsrød
Date: Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Subject: Watching your play right now in Oslo, Norway

I'm number two. "God save me.

Sendt fra min iPhone

EMAIL: Ida Loken (Oslo)

The following was sent to Nassim Soleimanpour after Ida Loken performed White Rabbit, Red Rabbit in Oslo: 

Dear Nassim,

I hope this is your correct e-mail address. As I remember it from your play.

I am the actor who was performing your play this evening in Oslo. My name is Ida Løken. I am a female actor, 37 years old.

It was a weird, but very nice, exciting, scary and strong experience. I surrendered to your text and your instructions. For me it was very strong to read the parts directly from you to us, your descriptions of where you were, of not having a passport, of how you pictured us.. And the part where you are listing the 17 ways of committing suicide, and the 18th way - life.

There was so much life in your play.

Thank you so much for your voice from your country, from you, from the sour oranges to the snowy Scandinavia..

Afterwards, of course, the actors profession kicks in, and I just wanted to do it again, and do it better..

This experience will stay with me for a long time.

Thank you - and may you be safe and healthy, and in good spirits.

Best regards
Ida :)

Monday, 5 March 2012

Making Friends with the White Rabbit

Check out these great promo shots out of Oslo from Imploding Fictions.

Bunny cuddle time!!

Mohammad Mirzazadeh, Mats Eldøen, Sarah Ramin Osmundsen & Kate Pendry. Photo by Tanja Steen.
Iram Haq. Photo by Tanja Steen.

Kate Pendry. Photo by Tanja Steen.
Mariann Hole. Photo by Tanja Steen.
Mats Eldøen. Photo by Tanja Steen.
Mohammad Mirzazadeh. Photo by Tanja Steen.
Sarah Ramin Osmundsen. Photo by Tanja Steen.
Graphic design by Anders N. Pedersen.

Making News in Oslo

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit is onstage at theatres across Oslo this month, presented by Imploding Fictions at Oslo International Theater. For the Norwegian speakers, take a look at this TV spot on the show, starting at 6:47:

Nassim also gave an interview with, which you can read here.

Photo: Oslo Internasjonale Teater

Rabbits in Norway!

The first group of rabbits sent to Nassim from Norway, with actor Kate Pendry.