Western Australia's culturally diverse arts scene is embracing an ancient tale of romance, love and separation—and giving it new life.
The performance of Layla Majnun, based on a timeless epic dating from 12th century Persia, brings together traditional Persian storytelling with contemporary visuals and original music.
The play has been recreated as an hour-long one-man performance featuring acclaimed Farsi scholar and storyteller Feraidoon Mojadedi from the US.
Many in the production's core team—producer, projection and sound designers, stage manager and community engagement lead—come from Perth's culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
"We wanted to make sure that the mainstream arts are representative of the social fabric of WA," said creative producer Zainab Sayed.
"In order to tell this story authentically—as the story is so beloved by cultures across the Muslim world—it was important to make sure the team putting the show together also came from diverse backgrounds. It meant they understood the nuances of culture and art represented in the story."
Zainab explained that Layla Majnun is an exciting new theatrical experience for Perth audiences.
"The play will bring many firsts for Western Australia. It's the first production rooted in traditional knowledge—its rigorous and authentic in its reimagining of a Persian tale.
"It has never been done like this before in the world, as far as we know. Stories like this are usually passed on through generations, through storytelling.
"This production is an opportunity to bring Feraidoon Mojadedi's traditional style of Persian storytelling into the theatre—it offered us the possibility to recreate the story in a way that can be shared with a wider audience," Zainab said.
Layla Majnun is the centrepiece of a four-day arts festival featuring food, entertainment and activities for all ages 6+ at Subiaco Arts Centre from Wednesday 2 to Saturday 5 October.