Eye opening, inspirational and I couldn’t keep my eyes off Nemat’s brave performance.
~ Insiya F. (Bur Oak Secondary School)
Jack, Cynthia & James, the artistic directors of MOTUS O Dance Theatre, first met Marina Nemat at a conference about the Arts in Education where they were both presenting. Jack, Cynthia and James were so deeply taken with Marina's story, that they contacted her with the idea of presenting her story in dance. Their thought was not to dance her story, but to use movement to illustrate her story telling.
After a number of meetings, the work began to take form. The issue of how to support Marina's story through movement and not 'hijack' it, was crucial. Together they decided that Marina would be a 'performer' in the piece. That the story-teller would not be relegated to the background, to a voice over. It was important not only to hear Marina tell the story, but to see her tell it, as we watched Motus O dance it.
The result is brings us to a new place in storytelling: a combination of the spoken word, movement, video and music.
After completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree he joined the Academy of Performing Arts School (Cambridge, Ontario) where he taught and continued his studies in dance now including modern and contact improvisation. In 1990 Jack co-founded MOTUS O as well as took the roles of General Manager, Co-Artistic Director, Choreographer, Performer and Teacher. Jack has created over 60 original works for MOTUS O and has toured and taught with them throughout England, Australia, U.S.A. and Canada. Jack also works as a faculty member at the Banff Centre in Alberta in their Leadership Development Program.
Cynthia is a Co-Founder of MOTUS O as well as holds the positions of Co-Artistic Director, Choreographer, Performer, Teacher and Costume Designer. She has created over 60 original works for the company and has toured with them throughout England, the U.S.A. and Canada. Cynthia is an artist in residence with the Banff Centre in their Leadership Development Program. She also teaches movement with various social service organizations including individuals with Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy and Autism.
In 1990 James began his own company MOTUS O and has since been working the roles of Co-Artistic Director as well as Choreographer, Performer, Set and Prop Designer. James also is a teacher in dance and theatre, including working for the Royal Conservatory of Music’s “Learning through the Arts” program teaching school curriculum through the arts in Toronto. He also works as an artist in residence at the Banff Centre in their Management/Leadership Program. James has created over 60 original works or 15 full-length productions for the company and has toured them throughout England, Australia, the U.S.A. and Canada.
Marina Nemat was born in 1965 in Tehran, Iran. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, she was arrested at the age of sixteen and spent more than two years in Evin, a political prison in Tehran, where she was tortured and came very close to execution. She came to Canada in 1991 and has called it home ever since. Her memoir of her life in Iran, Prisoner of Tehran, was published in Canada by Penguin Canada in 2007, has been published in 28 other countries, and has been an international bestseller. In 2007, Marina received the inaugural Human Dignity Award from the European Parliament, and in 2008, she received the prestigious Grinzane Prize in Italy. In 2008/2009, she was an Aurea Fellow at University of Toronto’s Massey College
This show brings us to a new place in storytelling; a combination of spoken word, movement, video and music.
Where does one draw the line between storytelling, dance, mime and movement-theater?
To us the line is not really there. Even if you sit on a chair telling a story you are dancing... No big leaps and kicks, but the minimalist kind of dance. The glances, the breathing, hands gesturing, toes twitching. In fact I find the toes of a storyteller are very important. If you see and hear a very good storyteller you can be sure his or her toes are moving as the story unfolds.
Prisoner of Tehran is a spectacular piece – perfect in length, message and delivery. There is enough historical context given in the opening video montage to set the scene after which Nemat’s own voice takes over. The dance is by turns athletic and nuanced as the four artists wind around Nemat’s words and her physical body. The narration, the movement, and the spaces between the two create a powerfully emotional experience for the audience. The piece is simply spectacular.
~ Kate Kostandoff
Head of Library
Bur Oak Secondary School, Markham Ontario Canada
We provide extensive lesson plans & activities
After seeing our performance you can use our lesson plans, and follow-up activities for a number of disciplines including English, History, Drama and Dance.
A few things to remember:
• It is not critical that students master every name, political event or episode in the book. Depending on what themes you choose to emphasize, you can use specific information in the book to provide support or evidence for developing those particular ideas.
Marina Nemat was born in 1965 in Tehran, Iran. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, she was arrested at the age of sixteen and spent more than two years in Evin, a political prison in Tehran, where she was tortured and came very close to execution. She came to Canada in 1991 and has called it home ever since. Her memoir of her life in Iran, Prisoner of Tehran, was published in Canada by Penguin Canada in 2007.
The show Prisoner of Tehran is a stunning piece of theatre, while at the same time an amazing opportunity to inform and create awareness for students. I cannot imagine a better catalyst for classroom discussion than this show. My students were absorbed, and filled with incredibly deep and meaningful questions. A must see event!
Unionville High School, Unionville Ontario Canada