text & direction Mahin Sadri
with Saeid Changizian, Navid Mohammadzadeh, Ali Bagheri, Shahab Zare, Nader Fallah, Kazem Sayyahi, Shiva Fallahi
Set designers Bahar Seirafi, Mahin Sadri
Light designer Davoud Sadri
Costumes Maryam Khamseh
First director’s assistant Saeideh Amir Saaei
Second director’s assistant Mehdi Shahhoseini
Stage managers Ehsan Goudarzi, Hamed Nejabat
Graphic design Ehsan Neghabat
Make-up Laya Kharaman
Photos © Mani Lotfizadeh
running time 1h15
Production Mehr Theatre Group
Creation in Tehran, Shams Hall, Dec 2013- Jan 2014
Production manager Mohammad Reza Hosseinzadeh
In April 2011, a climbing team of 8, from Zanjan province, with four freelance climbers (one from Tehran, two from Arak and one from Kerman) went to Nepal. After a six day walk they reached Samagon village and from there went to the main camp of Manaslu with the intention of climbing the 8000 meter peak of the Himalaya. After two periods of acclimations with a not well-thought decision and without considering the fact that one of their co-climbers was bedridden in the camp, they left the fourth camp to reach the peak. The team returned from the peak after 19 hours and it came upon Eisa Mirshekari who was having seizures as the result of altitude sickness. The team’s attempts to bring her down were unsuccessful and her dead body was left alone somewhere between the third and fourth camp of Manaslu surrounded by ice seracs in darkness and cold.
During the expedition the team faced many troubles such as low thresholds, discontent with the decisions of the leader and technical supervisor, illogical decisions, unnecessary rationalizations, lack of a feeling of responsibility in regards to other climbers, selfishness and greed which in the end caused the death of the Kermanian climber Eisa.
Belayer is a documentary play based on this real story that happened in Himalaya. Everything in the play comes from actual reports and interviews. Just the name of the characters due to the law restrictions have been changed. The play starts from the main camp and follows the climbers in their expedition and ends up with Eisa’s death.
By juxtaposition of the paradoxical of the seven narrators, the play tries to show all aspects of this incident and shows that how sometimes even the little and apparently trivial mistakes can lead to a moving tragedy.
The scenery evolves through a performative process, in synergy with the play and performance, in a shared space between actor and spectator.
According to the non-judgemental multi-faceted approach of the play (to the real story), the designed arena configuration with diverse open and acute angles, determines the relations between spectator-actor and spectator-performance, providing each spectator a different partial view to the play from a specific point of view.
Performatively, In the process of the play, climbing ropes installed by actors, interweave the common space of actors and spectators together, sewing the unclear borders in between. It spatially engages the spectator in the performance dramatic situation, where actors, with their characters’ selfishness, climb the rows of people to reach the Manaslu summit.
Lighting is installed inside the stands and ropes, gradually illuminating the scene.
The audiences’ platform is asymmetrical, in five rows and each row with a different elevation. The rows arrange against each other.
The platform is a symbol of Manaslu’s mountain in Himalayas, the floor is the « Base Camp » and the first, second, third and the fourth row are respectively the first, second, third and forth camp, and the last row (the fifth one) is « the peak ».
The audience can sit on the floor or on the sits in each row. The actors pass through the audience and depending on their story they stop on one camp at a time or in different camps simultaneously and narrate the story from their own point of view. In fact, the people are the Manaslu Mountain that the characters want to pass over and reach the peak.
There are some stands on the ground and each time an actor fixes a rope to them and takes the rope to « The Camps » (audiences’ platform) and connects it there. During the show, the scene fills up with the ropes that are drawn everywhere.
After the audience enter the hall the actors come into the stage and they stay there until the end of the play then they come down from the platforms (as if they are coming down from the mountain) and remove all the ropes and take them with themselves off the stage. The stage is left empty with the audience.
The important thing here is that this play is like a report and the audience daubt about their own judgment all the time. This approach is also seen in the way the actors act, acting without exaggeration and in a realistic and report-like manner.
We have also tried to do the stage design in a way that each audience is placed where can watch the story from his unique point of view. Sometimes an actor goes behind them and they cannot see them and just hear his/her lines. The actor who is right beside them, is very far from them in the next minute.
In this play we try to use unknown actors. The customs are very simple -coat with trousers or shirt with trousers- in neutral colors so they won’t be much different from the audience. But every cast members will wear boots and they have a « Rope Of Mountaineering » hanging on their belt. The actors will probably carry little pendants with themselves, so that when one of them stops and starts to talk and the rest are climbing the mountain the audience will hear the sound of them moving and getting far. This sound can also be made by the falling of little stones or some coins inside their pockets.
Apart from a song by « Archive » that we use at the end of the show and the moment that the actors sing altogether when they reach the peak of Manaslu there is no other music. But sometimes we might use sound effects of the wind or sleet.