Layla Majnun – A labour of love in more ways than one
Layla Majnun has been a labour of love for the Performing Lines WA team, and it showed in the care that was given to curating the space at Subiaco Arts Centre.
There were rugs and ottomans, cushions for those who like to sit low to the floor and thick books of Persian literature begging to be read. There was a table covered in kettles full of every kind of tea imaginable and a sitar player in the corner. It felt as though you were being welcomed into someone’s’ home – which, as it turns out, is exactly what Producer Zainab Syed had hoped for.
The opening up of these spaces for people who look like me, who will one day say – we went to a show once that was created by people like us and maybe we can do this too. Maybe they’ll make an even better show because of what they saw and felt tonight.
– Zainab Syed
This intimate tone was the perfect setup for Layla Majnun, a one man retelling of an ancient Persian love story. Performer Ustaad Feraidoon Mojadedi shares with the audience the story of Layla and the boy who becomes a majnun, or madman, because of his love for her. His delivery is simple but powerful, switching deftly between Farsi and English, as he details the many ways in which Layla and Majnun are kept apart.
This is the kind of storytelling which connects within and across cultures. As someone from an Anglo background, I felt incredibly privileged to be a witness to the strengthening of culture that happened through this performance. At the same time, I was never made to feel like an outsider.
Rumi once said, “Learn to see the rose in a thorn, because once it blooms, everyone sees it.” I hope, as people, we can be of those who see the roses before they bloom, and work to nurture them so they never wither.
The result is an unspoken dialogue between performer and audience that leaves the world a little richer.