Reza Abdoh, avant-garde director, playwright, company leader and poet. The collection consists of biographical materials, ephemera, clippings, scripts and photographs relating to the theater and film projects of Reza Abdoh.
Biographical/historical: Reza Abdoh, avant-garde director, playwright, company leader and poet, was born on February 23, 1963 to Ali Abdoh and Homa Oboodi in Teheran, Iran. At the age of seven, he saw Peter Brook's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in London and was deeply affected by it. Although there is some dispute regarding the biographical facts of his life from 1972-1982, it is known that during this period, he lived in England, where he directed Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen around 1977.
About 1980, he moved to Los Angeles where he directed numerous plays, including a program called Three Plays by Howard Brenton (1983), Shakespeare's King Lear (1985), The Farmyard by Franz Xavier Kroetz (1985), The Sound of a Voice and As the Crow Flies by David Henry Hwang (1985).
In addition to directing, by 1986 he began to create his own works such as A Medea: Requiem for a Boy with a White Toy and Rusty Sat on a Hill One Dawn and Watched the Moon Go Down, both produced in Los Angeles. It was also at this time he created the first in a body of videos: My Face and Oh Thello Sit Still. Abdoh's theatrical works often included multimedia elements; his works did not rely solely upon the text to convey their meaning. Reza Abdoh adapted and directed King Oedipus by Sophocles and Eva Peron by Copi at Theatre Upstairs (Los Angeles, 1987). In 1988, he directed Peep Show, a work which he co-authored with Mira-Lani Oglesby. Produced at Los Angeles's Hollywood Highland Hotel, Peep Show won L.A. Weekly's Production of the Year Award. Continuing his collaboration with Mira-Lani Oglesby, he directed Minamata (1989) at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. In 1990, Father Was a Peculiar Man, directed by Abdoh and produced by En Garde Arts, was performed in New York City's meat-packing district. That same year saw his creation and direction of The Hip-Hop Waltz of Eurydice at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. This work would also be performed at the Festival de Theatre des Ameriques, Montreal (1991), the Sigma Festival, Bordeaux and Mercat des la Flors, Barcelona (1992), and at the Festival d'Automne, Paris (1993). He also directed Pasos en la Obscuridad, a work he co-created with Frank Ambriz, at the Los Angeles Festival in 1990.
He wrote and directed Bogeyman which the Los Angeles Theatre Center produced in 1991. That same year marked the formation of his Dar A Luz theater company and his receiving the Audrey Skirball-Kenis Theatre Award for Outstanding New Work.
In 1992, Dar A Luz performed his work The Law of Remains in the Diplomat Hotel, New York City and in October of that year took the production to the Walker Arts Center's Freight House in Minneapolis. 1992 saw him branch out to other media-he created and directed The Blind Owl, a ninety-minute feature film; he also directed Long Beach Opera's production of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra. His Tight Right White was performed by Dar A Luz in New York City in 1993. From May through July of that same year, he toured with Dar A Luz, which performed The Law of Remains in the Springdance Festival, Utrecht; Festival Internacional, Granada; Wiener Festwochen, Vienna; Internationales Tanzfestival, Munich; Theater am Turm, Frankfurt; Sommertheater, Hamburg, and the Festival d'Automne, Paris.
He directed Quotations from a Ruined City, which he wrote with his brother, Salar; it was performed by Dar A Luz in New York City in 1994. In 1995, he wrote and directed A Story of Infamy (a.k.a. The History of Infamy). He was among the first five winners of the Cal Arts/Alpert Award in the Arts.
Reza Abdoh died of AIDS on May 11, 1995 in New York City at the age of 32. In 1996, he was posthumously awarded a "Bessie" Choreographer and Creator Award for Sustained Achievement.
Content: The Reza Abdoh collection of papers consists of biographical materials, ephemera, clippings, scripts, and photographs relating to his theater and film projects, both produced and unproduced. There are also papers relating to Dar A Luz, the theater company he formed in 1991.
The biographical materials include transcripts of interviews with Reza Abdoh, but consist mostly of transcripts of interviews conducted by Daniel Mufson with Abdoh's brother, Salar, and close friends and associates during the 1990s. Mufson's Master's thesis for the Yale School of Drama is also included, along with unpublished essays, general articles on Reza Abdoh, and a chronology of his life and work.
Productions form the largest part of the collection. The Reza Abdoh collection shows the progression of his work from 1983 to 1995 and offers insight into the development of these works through evolving versions of scripts, handwritten notes and miscellaneous materials from various people involved with these works. His works between 1991 through 1995 are especially well-documented, particularly the European tour of 1993, which includes copies of ground plans, light and sound design material and other production ephemera. There are also a number of materials, including a script, relating to The Blind Owl, a ninety-minute feature film he directed in 1992.
Correspondence is minimal and does not include any personal letters to or from Reza Abdoh. Since all collection materials were donated by Reza Abdoh's associates, relatively few items were directly generated by Abdoh himself. However, there are some notes for the text of A Story of Infamy (his last work) which appear to be in his own hand, and an annotated script for another unproduced work, The Saga of Faust Part I - Degree Zero: The Birth of Mephisto. There is also an annotated script for Tight Right White, as well as handwritten corrections (which also appear to be his) made to the project proposal for this work. A draft of a letter to Des McAnuff contains some of his jottings and drawings; there are also the beginnings of a note on the back of A Story of Infamy correspondence. Of his unproduced works, A Story of Infamy is best documented. It appears to have been scheduled for performance in Europe in May and June of 1995 but then cancelled, due to Abdoh's death in May of that same year. Of particular interest is a written statement by Salar Abdoh regarding A Story of Infamy made in memory of his brother.