It is a kind of traditional Iranian religious theater, performed on the occasion of the martyrdom of Hossein, grandson of the prophet Mohamed in Karbala in 681 AD.
These performances are intended to commemorate and share the pain of the drama, and the oppressions inflicted by Yazid, the son of Muawyia on the family of the Prophet.
This style of performance originated in the Qajar era, in the 19th century, and is literally based on a tradition collected orally.
Some peculiarities that we find in each performance of this living scene:
– The spectacle sometimes lasts a whole day from morning until sunset or until the assassination of Hossein.
– All dialogue recounts the strong moments to the rhythm of litanies to sadden and make the spectators cry. Long texts sung in poetry are recited according to manuscripts kept by the actors.
– Normally the role of women is played by men veiled in black.
– The Imam and his companions (the oppressed) are dressed in green and the yazidi (the oppressors) in red.
– At midday, during prayer there is an intermission, lunch is provided for all the spectators, an ex-voto from generous donors.
– A whole orchestra of percussions and flutes accompany the show.
– An extra cavalry in charge of mounting a horse accompanied by music, turns around the stage on command.
– The staging is done live in full view of the spectators, there is no backstage.