Fourth Annual Bita Prize for Literature
The Bita Daryabari Endowment in Persian Letters, in the Iranian Studies Program will present the Bita Prize for Literature on Thursday, November 10th, 2011.
The recipient of this year's Bita Prize for Literature is Mr. Bahram Beyzaie.
Bahram Beyzaie, Visiting Professor, Stanford University
Bahram Beyzaie is one of the most talented, internationally acclaimed artists, scholars and public intellectuals of his generation in Iran. He has written more than thirty-five plays, and fifty screenplays. Though a film-maker for over forty years, and recognized as one of the masters of Iran’s much-celebrated new-wave of cinema, he has been allowed to make only ten feature films and four short films.But Beyzaie is not just an artist but also a scholar. His pioneering work on the history of Iranian theater remains, some forty-years after its publication, the most authoritative source on the subject. His many monographs and essays have delved into a comparative study of Iranian, Indian, Chinese and Japanese performing art traditions. He has played a critical role in the study of religious passion plays in Iran and what they can offer modern theater. He has just finished work on a lengthy manuscript on the origins of A Thousand and One Nights story. He offers an altogether new interpretation of the Indo-Iranian origins of these remarkable stories.Beyzaie was born in Tehran, in December 1938. His was a family of erudite poets and literary scholars, and it did not take him long to realize that his was to be a life in arts and aesthetics. He had a voracious appetite to read, learn and create. Myriad discursive genres and performing arts became the smithy for his unique alchemy of words and images, history and myth, the mundane and the sublime. His unique talents as an artist and his singular accomplishments as a scholar eventually combined to make him the Chair of the Dramatic Arts Department at Tehran University, where he helped train at least two generation of artists. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, he was forced to resign from the university. His unbending dedication to his art and to the dignity of artists and scholars, his unwillingness to allow ideological or political forces deform his ideas and art, his defiant desire to always speak truth to power have made of him a maverick. His direction of his own play, Marg Yazgerd (Death of Yazgard) remains today, almost three decades later, one of the most memorable and acclaimed theatric performances of the time. A film version of the play has also won much acclaim.Western audiences were first introduced to Beyzaie's talents when two of his plays were performed at the Festival du Theater des Nations, in Paris in 1963. Since then, many of his plays have been performed in theaters around the world and several of his films have won acclaim at important film festivals. His works have been translated into English, French, German, Portuguese, Turkish, Kurdish and Arabic.He is currently the Daryabari Visiting Professor of Persian Letters at Stanford University. He lives in Palo Alto with his wife, Mojdeh Shamsai, herself an acclaimed actress, and their son Niassan.