The English premiere of ‘Heart of a Dog’, presented by NOWADAYS THEATRE company, is a comical adaptation by Mohammad Yaghoubi, based on a novel by the classic Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov.
The story is about a stray dog saved by a successful surgeon who runs an operation on the dog by trepanning his skull and giving him human pituitary glands. Later on, the dog gets hired by the Soviet State and starts working for them. Arguably, this timeless story – uniquely – portrays the exploitation of people in any society in which individuals are used and even abused due to particular political intentions of the government.
Presented by NOWADAYS THEATRE company, ‘Heart of a Dog’ had its English premiere virtually in January 2022, at the Next Stage Theatre Festival, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
With the generous support of the Toronto Arts Council, ‘Heart of a Dog’ was supposed to be one of the six in-person shows to be presented as a part of the 2022 Next Stage Theatre Festival.
When live theatre performances were paused again in Ontario because of Covid, the Next Stage Theatre Festival had planned to film the shows for digital presentation. Heart of a Dog was filmed in Ada Slaight Hall at the Daniels Spectrum, Toronto, and was first streamed on January 21, 2022.
Mohammad Yaghoubi staged the Farsi premiere of ‘Heart of a Dog’ in Iran in1999. He later remounted this play in Iran in 2014, in which he had a different approach, and asked all the men in the show to wear headscarves. This was in response to the image of women that the Islamic state has disseminated in recent decades. In Iran, the state dictates Islamic sartorial codes for women to this day. Yaghoubi used this approach to criticize the compulsory hijab and censorial regulations. The narrative of this story inspired Yaghoubi to expose the similarities of the totalitarian states of two different countries of different times with contradicting ideologies wherein one communism ruled over people’s lives (Russia) and in the other religion (Iran). That project showed how ridiculously similar these countries are regarding the lack of freedom of speech and freedom of opinion.
Living in Canada, Yaghoubi had the opportunity to embrace the freedom to experiment with his creativity without the constraints he previously experienced in Iran. In this third approach, the most crucial change was that the main character (the dog) performed by a woman who would not be allowed to do so in Iran, where a woman’s body is a political matter.
Where: Ada Slaight Hall at the Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas St E, Toronto, Canada