September 24, 2023

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Allegorical play “Otolsurun” satirizes arrival of first car in Iran

TEHRAN – A play currently on stage at a Tehran theater allegorically satirizes the arrival of the first automobile in Iran during the Qajar period.

Director Shahruz Delafkar uses a cast of 25 amateur actors, who previously participated in his workshops, to stage “Otolsorun” (“Car Launch Party”) written by Baqer Sorush.

The play takes the audience to Qajar king Mozaffar ad-Din Shah’s dream in the early years of the 1900s when he brought an automobile to Iran for the first time. The story features symbols from the history of the period and notes the harem’s jealousy over the new phenomenon.

The decision to bring the car to the country was made at a time when conditions in the society were such that there was widespread suffering from a growing addiction problem, rampant poverty, infectious diseases and many other social and political crises.

The play satirically explores the question: what is the point of introducing the automobile to a society in which over 90 percent of the population are suffering from hunger and are illiterate, while additionally their country is being looted by the Soviet Union and Britain?   

In March 2021, Delafkar used another troupe in staging the play at Samandarian Hall in Tehran.

“In this play, we use history just as a medium, we don’t intend to recount a historical story. In fact, we use the Qajar period as a form; not as a historical subject,” writer Sorush told the Persian service of Honaronline at that time. 

“My writings come from my life experiences and all those things necessary for writing,” he added.

“Otolsurun” won an honorable mention at the Fajr International Theater Festival in Tehran in 2021.

Mozaffar ad-Din Shah made three visits to Europe during his reign from 1896 until his death in 1907.

On his first trip to Europe in 1900, he went to Belgium where he became acquainted with automobiles.

Visits to car manufacturers were a major part of his travels to Europe. As a result, his visits to the car companies led him to purchase several automobiles, of which he certainly showed a preference for French cars.

In 1901 he bought a Gardner-Serpollet in Paris and he gave Léon Serpollet the Order of the Lion and the Sun for his services.

Photo: Director Shahruz Delafkar’s troupe performs “Otolsurun” at the Nazerzadeh Kermani Hall of the Iranshahr Theater Complex in Tehran on May 23, 2023. (Tiwall/Reza Javidi)  


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