Director: Tim Supple

Writer: Ferdowsi (adapted by Dick Davis)

Producer: Dash Arts

Theatre: National Theatre Studios

Year: 2009-10

Matthaios Tsahourides in full flow


  • Fariborz Kiani - guru/percussion
  • Arash Moradi - tambour
  • Tigran Aleksanyan - duduk/clarinet/zurna
  • John Banks - qanun/oud
  • Matthaios Tsahourides - lyra
  • Stuart Hall - oud
  • Hani Rouhani - voice

The Shahnameh is a seminal work of Persian literature, and Persian music is among the most sophisitcated and beautiful traditions I have ever come across. And so to be asked to be Musical Director for a series of workshops at the National Theatre working on this epic was a great privilege. The experience was wonderful for many reasons: the poetry of Dick Davis, who was commissioned to write a new translation from the Persian that managed to be funny, brooding and incredibly beautiful; the stellar cast of musicians I managed to assemble (literally a London Who’s Who of musicians from the Near East); the great quality of the theatrical team (director Tim Supple, the forty or so actors, even a perfect stage manager called Sally).

I hope very much it makes it out of development onto the stage one day.


Commissioned by the National Theatre, Tim Supple worked on Ferdowsi’s epochal work telling the narrative of the Iranian nation from the dawn of time. The epic was adapted for theatre with the poet and leading Farsi scholar, Dick Davies in several workshops at the National’s experimental studio. At the heart of the process was two trips: India in 2009 to track the roots of ancient theatrical tradition in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and West Bengal and then Tehran in 2010 for workshops, discussions, and encounters with leading artists, academics and scholars. The production remains in development with more trips to Iran and the diaspora planned.

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