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Reza Abdoh

Reza Abdoh (February 23, 1963, in Tehran, Iran – May 12, 1995 in New York City) was an Iranian-born American director and playwright known for large-scale, experimental theatrical productions, often staged in unusual spaces like warehouses and abandoned buildings.


Abdoh was born in Tehran in 1963. In Reza Abdoh, academic Daniel Mufson says that Abdoh often "embellished" his achievements between 1972 and 1983. For example, he may or may not have participated in the Robert Wilson play Ka Mountain in Iran. Mufson says that according to records at the University of Southern California Abdoh studied for one semester in 1979.

In 1983 he began directing plays, often adapting classics like King Lear, King Oedipus, and Medea in Los Angeles theaters.

In 1990, Abdoh directed Father Was a Peculiar Man, a multimedia performance featuring more than 50 performers that occurred across four blocks of New York City's Meatpacking District. That year he also wrote and directed The Hip-Hop Waltz of Eurydice, staged at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. Abdoh called it a "gut reaction to systemic repression and erosion of freedom" in an interview with Thomas Leabhart published in Mime Journal. His work often confronted such issues as race, class and AIDS.

Abdoh worked on several productions with the New York and Los Angeles theater ensemble Dar a Luz, which he formed in 1991. Productions with the company included The Law of Remains (1992), Tight Right White (1993) and Quotations From a Ruined City (1994), co-written with his brother, Salar Abdoh. His later work was called "nightmarish" and used multimedia elements with downtown theater conventions to "bombard" audiences. New York Times critic Stephen Holden called Abdoh "a theatrical visionary" in his obituary.

Abdoh also directed the experimental film The Blind Owl, featuring his partner, Brenden Doyle, in 1992. Abdoh made several short videos between 1986 and 1991. He is the subject of the book Reza Abdoh, edited by Daniel Mufson; his papers and videotapes of some performances are kept at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts [1].

At 32, Abdoh died due to causes related to AIDS.


  • Mufson, Daniel. Reza Abdoh, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8018-6124-1
  • Holden, Stephen.[ "Reza Abdoh, 32, Theater Artist Known for Large-Scale Works," New York Times, May 12, 1995.]
  • Brantley, Ben.[ "Theater in Review," New York Times, March 3, 1994.]
  • Raymond, Gerard. "Theater Takes To the Streets," New York Times, June 24, 1990.

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