‘Burnt City’ battles U.S.-Iran relations with biracial humor and bilingual poetry
“Burnt City: A One-Persian Show about U.S.-Iran Relations!” plays Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the University of Northern Iowa's Interpreters Theatre, located in Lang Hall Room 040.
Writer and Director Josh Hamzehee describes “Burnt City” as a “personal Persian show in a partisan political time that compares domestic abuse in one’s home to the impacts homelands have on their citizens.” While the subject is serious and extremely politically relevant, Hamzehee exclaims, “It is a comedy! ‘Burnt City’ hits home no matter where home is for you.”
This hour-long solo show draws on Hamzehee’s real-life biracial and bilingual upbringing as the son of an Iranian military man who immigrated to Los Angeles following the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Set in a dystopic 2032 where ancestry data is governmentally regulated, Kurosh (Hamzehee) is shipped to Shahr-e Sukhte, a 6,000-year-old Persian metropolis turned apocalyptic graveyard. Using poetry and innovative staging, Kurosh confronts the messiness of the cultures he was born into, provoking audiences to ask, “what do we owe those who came before, and what are the responsibilities of those with power?”
Through various vignettes, “Burnt City” ushers audiences into several time periods, such as a 1980’s wrestling ring with Hulk Hogan and the Iron Sheik, the history of U.S.-“Middle East” relations told through biting satire, today’s political climate and an appreciation of Persian culture shared through artifacts and video projections. By bringing “Burnt City” to Cedar Falls, Hamzehee hopes “this Far-glish performance introduces Iowans to a culture not as distant and anti-American as often made out to be.”
The show is free, and reservations can be made through Eventbrite. Parking is available to the north of Lang Hall after 4:30 p.m. weekdays and all day on weekends. You can also visit the Interpreters Theatre on Facebook.
Matthew Bancroft-Smithe, firstname.lastname@example.org, (319) 429-1787