Stories from Home
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An ancient, epic tale of star-crossed lovers, Layla and Majnun is more than 1000 years old. The story is revived at this year’s Melbourne International Arts Festival, in a magnificent dance production choreographed by Mark Morris.
As a complement to these performances, the Wheeler Centre is hosting a conversation about the significance of the Layla and Majnun legend, in the past and today, and on the nature of Persian storytelling traditions more broadly.
We’ll hear from musicologist Aida Huseynova, an expert in the music and culture of Azerbaijan, who consulted on the Layla and Majnun production. We’ll also hear from Shokoofeh Azar, acclaimed author of The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree, who drew on Persian legends when writing her Stella Prize-shortlisted novel.
The pair will discuss the importance of music and song in Persian storytelling, and the role of adaptation and interpretation in keeping traditional stories alive.
Our bookseller at this event will be Hill of Content.
Presented in partnership with Melbourne International Arts Festival.
Aida Huseynova Ph.D., a musicologist from Azerbaijan, is a Lecturer in Music at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Since 2006, Huseynova has served as a research advisor for the Mark Morris Dance Group, the Silk Road Ensemble founded by Yo-Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet and the Aga Khan Music Initiative.
Among her publications is the monograph Music of Azerbaijan: From Mugham to Opera (Indiana University Press, 2016). Huseynova’s awards include an Andrew W. Mellon grant (2015), a Fulbright Fellowship (2007–08).
Shokoofeh Azar was born in Iran in 1972, just seven years before the Islamic revolution. Despite spending most of her childhood and early career in a hostile environment for independent writing, Shokoofeh’s interest in writing and art was sparked by her father who was an Iranian intellectual, author, poet and artist. She studied literature at high school and university, later working as a journalist for an independent newspaper for fourteen years.
Serpil Senelmis is an Australian broadcaster with Turkish heritage. She is the co-director of Written & Recorded, a content agency.
‘Home’ can mean many things for artists – from intimate knowledge of a genre, artform or practice to a deep connection with a national culture, its customs and traditions. What happens when we open our homes to others … or bring our familiar ground to them? Can shared stories create a home for all?
During this year’s Melbourne International Arts Festival, the Wheeler Centre presents a series of discussions that unravel the thinking behind three shows, each arising from the meeting of different cultures and artforms. Join us as we count out the creative dividends of collaboration, exchange and knowing your neighbours.