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Feathers of Fire: A 10th-century Persian tale told with shadow puppetry

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Zaul and Rudabeh are two souls entwined in a timeless love amidst the tumult of familial discord and epic monster battles. In the hands of Iranian filmmaker, artist, and playwright Hamid Rahmanian, this 10th-century tale transforms into an enchanting, multi-layered theater experience created with animation, live music, and next-level shadow puppetry.

shadow puppetry
Feathers of Fire is the elaborate 2016 theatrical production inspired by the Persian epic Shahnameh (The Book of Kings) by poet and author Ferdowsi. Together with shadow theater artist Larry Reed, production artists, and eight shadow casters, the play comes to life with more than 150 puppets, 130 animated backgrounds, and 700 audio cues. From LA Excites in 2017:

“As the troupe is quickly maneuvering themselves relative to the light and each other, they are also getting a full-body workout by running, galloping, climbing, flapping their arms (to appear like they’re flying), and more, amid a myriad of scene transitions and fade-outs.”

“And yet, impressively through it all, the performers are fluid in how they manipulate themselves and their cut-out puppets, never once misstepping or faltering. For the audience, the images are as sharp as 4K, featuring a cornucopia of black-and-white and cel-shaded colors that poetically intermix and interact along an ostensibly endless plane of canvas.”

meeting a monster
The live shadow theater production garnered widespread praise for its innovative approach to storytelling and visual artistry, earning acclaim from audiences and critics alike. It has been performed at numerous theaters and festivals worldwide, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Persian literature and art.


In the KCETSoCalConnected video below, cast member Dina Zarif, digital media director Mohammad Talani, and music composer Azam Ali talk about their roles in the production. Incredible behind-the-scenes footage is shown throughout.


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Bonus: The Lion King’s animal costumes behind-the-scenes.

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