Rumi's Mathnavi: A Theatre Adaptation by Joe Martin (front cover)

Rumi’s Mathnavi

A Theatre Adaptation by Joe Martin. Transliterated Persian passages by Lida Saeedian.
Production photographs by Page Carr. Second Edition.

Paperback: $16.95 | ISBN 978-1-58775-033-5
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E-Book: $9.99 | ISBN 978-1-58775-021-2
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Joe Martin is a playwright, novelist and theatre director, whose works comprise an international, curious, formal exploration into the border regions between the spiritual cosmos and the political world. He is the recipient of various grants and awards as a writer and director — including a Fulbright Senior Fellowship in Theatre, and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Scandinavian Foundation, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, among others. In 2002, Martin was selected as a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Theatre. His recent books include the novel Foreigners, Conspiracies: Six Plays, Strindberg —, Seven Plays, Keeper of the Protocols: The Works of Jens Bjorneboe, and The Insomnia Suite: Poems. Author and adaptor of some thirty plays, including The Dust Conspiracy, The Receiver, Anatole’s Lover, The Match Girl’s Snow Queen, and Rumi’s Mathnavi. For over a decade he has directed Washington’s laboratory theatre, Open Theatre/DC.

Rumi’s Mathnavi was first sponsored by the Center for Global Peace and the Department of Performing Arts at American University in a reader’s theatre version in 1999 and 2000. Versions of it have been produced at the La MaMa ETC main stage in New York and elsewhere. In 2006, the piece toured the East coast cities as a theatre-for-peace project — with discussions hosted by Quakers, conflict resolution specialists, Imams, Rabbis, a Sufi Sheikh, and well-known peace activists including Iraqi-American Andy Shallal. Performed in the traditional Sufi “circle” with live musicians and Persian dance, it became a ritual realization of Rumi’s book.
UNESCO in conjunction with the Turkish Embassy — representing the country where the Persian poet lived most of his life — has issued a medallion for the year of Rumi, recognizing his present importance for the world. The events scheduled for this year that also honor Rumi and his incomparable poetic work include a documentary film on current-day students of Rumi and a CD of his poetry set to music. A feature film on the life of Rumi is currently in the works.

For twenty years, Rumi has been the best selling poet in America. But until now, most English speakers have found it almost impossible to get a sense of the world of his greatest work, the Mathnavi. This Coyote Arts edition of Joe Martin’s dramatic adaptation aims to provide that opportunity, a previous edition, from Asylum Arts, having been out of print for some time.

This edition will give a wide audience an authentic taste of Rumi’s six-volume work, in a reader’s edition, accompanied by photographs from the 2005 production of the play. The adaptation utilizes loyal renderings directly from the Persian and Reynolds Nicholson’s famous six-volume Persian and English version of the major work by the man often called “the Shakespeare of the Middle East.” Rumi’s spiritual philosophy and strangely postmodern ability to shift between genres — from parables, to commentaries, to lyric flights of poetry — combine to make his work the most all-embracing, openhearted and powerful of texts to come out of the Islamic world. Rumi’s writing is one of the single greatest antidotes to the “clash of civilizations” thinking used by ideologues on two sides to challenge the peace of the world. A dozen key parables and songs demonstrating the Sufi philosophy of the Unity of Being provide the body the text.

Absolutely remarkable and memorable!…When I first read the script, I thought that it would be impossible to have all of that in one play. It was as if I had gone to a party, and had been offered an entire pot of gourmet food that I had to finish. But … with every new bite I felt even hungrier … The directing, the acting, the music and choreography was endowed with a complex simplicity or simple complexity! It was all very inspiring and en- lightening. It felt as if the actors analyzed Rumi’s stories, lifting the veils one after another.

Lida Saeedian, author and Rumi translator

Joe Martin’s adaptation of Rumi’s classic work is educational, moving, and most importantly, highly entertaining. It’s also an extremely relevant and timely play—especially in today’s political climate!

Jon Klein, playwright, author of T Bone N Weasel and Dimly Perceived Threats to the System
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