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REZA ABDOH: THEATRE VISIONARY


The extraordinary life of Iranian-born American theatrical maverick Reza Abdoh (1963-1995) is celebrated in this intimate portrait, assembled from rare, archival video footage of over 300 hours of Abdoh’s most important pieces, alongside interviews with him, his collaborators, critics, friends, and family. 


Described as a provocateur whose actors “mooned audiences, became slaves under torture, and hung nude upside down in fish tanks,” Abdoh was best known for his large-scale experimental works, often staged outside the traditional theater environment. Created with his company, Dar a Luz, his pieces were performed in lofts, hotels, and on the streets of New York City’s then-gritty Meatpacking District throughout the early ’90s and seen in Los Angeles and Europe. Abdoh’s expressive imagery was inspired by everything from classical literature to his own harrowing experience as a gay man diagnosed with AIDS in the context of the American political landscape of the 1990s, to TV talk shows and BDSM iconography, with subject matter ranging from personal memories to racial issues, violence in America, sexual repression, cruelty, and death.


Reza Abdoh: Theatre Visionary is much more than just an homage to the maverick director. Producer and director Adam Soch—a close collaborator on many of the late artist’s projects— shows that the world and work of Abdoh can appeal not only to the theatre cognoscenti, but to everyone fascinated by the power of a creative spirit. Through anecdotes, personal reflections, excerpts from live shows and rehearsals, the viewer is led into the world of a famously demanding, driven and uncompromising artist—but above all, a charismatic leader and an exceptional human being. “You meet a Reza Abdoh once in a lifetime,” proclaims renowned director Peter Sellars in the film. By the time the documentary is over, it is clear that this statement is true. 


Adam Soch fled the communist Eastern Europe in 1980 to seek creative freedom in the United States. He is an award-winning filmmaker and producer, known for his remarkable and compelling imagery and editing, and has worked on projects involving such luminaries as opera superstars Placido Domingo and Angela Gheorghiu, actors Jessica Lange, Dustin Hoffman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Vanessa Redgrave, and Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu and Michail Gorbatchev. Throughout the 1990s, he collaborated closely with Reza Abdoh on many of his most acclaimed productions, including Hip-Hop Waltz of Eurydice, Bogeyman, Tight Right White, and Quotations from a Ruined City.

  • Year
    2015
  • Runtime
    99 minutes
  • Language
    English
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Adam Soch