This panel was compiled by the Conference Program Team from independently submitted paper proposals
Theater has been used during centuries to serve different political and social objectives across the world. It is well known to scholars in performance studies that local context could strongly influence a play's staging and interpretation. The sociopolitical situation and the influence of the dominant political powers on art are among the most decisive determinants of the context. This paper tries to examine the latter issue in a new venue-- in the country of Iran, a country with a century-long history of performing "Hamlet", under three different political regimes that claim to be democratic. Since Iran has never been a colonial country, modern theater had been imported by local elites as a cultural tool for teaching democracy. The paper analyses three significant Iranian appropriations of "Hamlet" in three major political periods of Iranian history, and tries to discover how state policies affect the function of theater: For example, how are the "theater within theatre" episode, or Hamlet's madness, utilized for social commentary in a situation of totalitarian control and surveillance, and how is the representation of power and female figures on stage functioning for or against democracy. The presentation relies on three Iranian Hamlet case studies. The current study uses a descriptive method and analyses this matter through qualitative data collection, semiotic studies, and personal interviews. This paper is part of an ongoing research for a PhD Thesis at the Institute of Theater Studies, Bern University, titled: "Performing Hamlet in Modern Iran (1900-2012); Effects of Major Iranian Revolutions on Performing Hamlet".