Tehran’s vibrant theater culture does not shy away from exposing the pressing global issues of our time. One particularly compelling production, which ran through March 20, 2017, in the Iranian capital’s formidable City Theater, is Manus, a play about refugees awaiting processing to Australia. Manus is the eponymous name for the island province in Papua New Guinea where the Australian government leased land in 2001 to build a detention center, as part of its “Pacific Solution,” to contain asylum seekers off its shore.1 Written and directed by Nazanin Sahamizadeh, Manus is “documentary theater” that presents verbatim the words of Iranian refugees, based on research and interviews the playwright conducted over a two-year period (Esmaeli 2017). Manus highlights the difficult experiences of refugees caged inside the island’s detention center. The refugees express their dreams and desires,...

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