SAMAN ARASTOO

Photo by HAMZEH BAGHERI

Personal Life

In order to understand and introduce theatrical activities of Saman Arastou, talking about his personal life is inevitable. In the following the reasons will be discussed.

Saman is a member of the big society of Transsexuals. He is a man who was born in the mold of a woman’s body. When he was a child, his parents and other people around him understood that he is different, a child who always insisted on having short hair and for whom ladies clothing were always disgusting. He was always with boys, liked games for boys and didn’t like his woman body at all.

In his teenage years, he became more and more distress to the extent that no longer did he believe his gender is female; however, his body violated this view.

After so much research in this field, studying several papers and making inquiries from specialist physicians, he understood that he is a transsexual and this very awareness caused him to be more relaxed than before. Now, he knew that he is a man born in the mold of a woman’s body and he could obtain his real body after having sex reassignment surgery.

Despite the lack of comfort caused by not being in his real body, Arastou decided to reach a broader understanding of himself by deliberation and thought within himself, an understanding more than what he knew about himself on that time.

In spite of all those difficulties, he didn’t abandon theatre – the love and the first priority of his life.

Theatre would help him in further and deeper understanding of himself and his society. The stage was a place where he could deal with the inner sadnesses of himself and his society and pour them out.

Arastou thought that in order to obtain his real body, first he should understand himself precisely and properly to reach an appropriate position in the society. In this way, not only could he have sex reassignment surgery but also take an effective step for raising awareness about transsexual’s society.

To this end, he endured all sufferings and discomforts caused by the contradiction between his soul and body and moved to Tehran to extend his theatrical activities with all his love, passion and effort. And very soon he could introduce himself to the highest level of the theater in Iran.

His being different was evident even in the roles offered to him after he moved to Tehran and became familiar with directors of theatre and cinema. It was as if those directors also understood this obvious difference well.

For instance, in the movie “The Command” directed by Masoud Kimiai, he played the role of a bodyguard, a role that no woman had played in Iran before. Almost all the roles offered to him were as if they were written for a man.

At that time, he became a well-known actor in Iran’s cinema and television, and in theatre he staged successful plays as well.

Finally, in 2008, when he had reached to the pinnacle of artistic activities, he decided to finish his forty years of waiting for obtaining his real body and having sex reassignment surgery.

He speaks of this surgery as his birthday. It was as if after 41 years, he was born in a body which was for himself, and for him, nothing was more beautiful than that. After sex reassignment surgery, he was excluded from all cinema, television and even theatrical projects. However, that event did not lead him to stop working and began his independent artistic activities with determination more than before.

In 2015, he decided to stage his biography in a form of a play. The play “All of You Know Me” is the story of Arastou and the big society of transsexuals which made him to become famous again and enabled him to reach his long-held dream: raising social awareness about transsexuals’ society.

Saman continues his artistic activities powerfully in spite of all restrictions.

By Amir Mo’ayyad Bavand

Professional Life

Saman Arastou was born in 1967 in Iran (Shahrud). At the age of 16, he staged his first play “The Cell 18” in Shahrud written and directed by himself wherein he also played a role. In the same year (1983), he formed a group named “Avaye Divanegan”, and since then he has staged 18 plays with the said group.

In 1988, he became a member of board of directors in Shahrud’s Association of Performing Art and staged various plays in that city until 1991.

From 1991 to 1994, he taught in deprived villages. Some of his activities during those three years are as follows:

  • Teaching textbooks to illiterate and low literate children and adults who were not able to learn knowledge due to the lack of schools
  • Teaching theater
  • Setting up mobile library

During his teaching career in those regions, Arastou went back and forth between Shahrud’s villages and Tehran in order to participate in training courses of theatre workshops held in Tehran.

Then, in 1996, he moved to Tehran for continuing his professional activities and he played a role in his first play in Tehran called Aṣḥāb kahf (Companions of the Cave [The Seven Sleepers]) directed by Nureddin Ostovar. Having finished the aforementioned play, he played a role in the TV series “Sofreh Aghd” [Wedding Table] in the same year.

In later years, he extended his career in theater and cinema with directors such as Davoud Rashidi, Hamed Mohammad Taheri and Narges Hashempour in theater, and directors such as Asghar Farhadi, Masoud Kimiai, Kamal Tabrizi, and Tahmineh Milani in cinema.

Arastou’s Activities since 1983

  • Playwright, director and actor of the play “The Cell 18” (Shahrud/1983)
  • Actor of “Ruins of Syria” directed by Mohammad Ansari (Shahrud/ 1986)
  • Membership of Shahrud’s Association of Performing Art (1988)
  • Director of the play “The Bird and the Elephant” (Shahrud/ 1990)
  • Participating in body workout and motion classes held by Fahimeh Rastkar (Tehran/1991)
  • Participating in body workout and motion classes held by Shahnaz Yousefi (Tehran/1991)
  • Director of the play “A Window on the Winds”, written by Nazerzadeh (Shaheud/ 1992)
  • Teaching textbooks and theatre in deprived villages (Shahrud / 1991-1994)
  • Director and actor of “The Raining Night”, written by Esmaeel Hemmati (Shahrud/ 1991)
  • Actor of the playThe Battle in the Battle”, written by Davoud Mirbagheri (Shahrud/ 1994)
  • Actor of the playThe Battle in the Battle” written by Davoud Mirbagheri (Tehran/ 1995)
  • Actor of “Aṣḥāb kahf” (Companions of the Cave [ The Seven Sleepers]) (Tehran, 1996)
  • Cooperation with UNESCO Plays Group (Tehran/1996)
  • Actor of the TV Series “Sofreh Aghd” [Wedding Table] (Tehran/1996)
  • Participating in elocution classes under the supervision of Hamid Samandarian (Tehran/1996)
  • Teaching in 5 conservatories and high schools (1996-2000)
  • Director of the play “Four Hands” (Tehran/1999)
  • Actor of the play “Richard III” directed by Davoud Rashidi (Tehran/ 1999)
  • Director and actor of the play “The Play House” (Tehran/ 2000)
  • Director of the street show “The First Session Free” (Tehran/ 2000)
  • Actor of the TV series “The Rebellion Period” (Tehran /2001)
  • Actor of the TV series “In the City” directed by Asghar Farhadi (Tehran/2001)
  • Actor of the TV series “When Tehran was an Orchard” directed by Mehrdad Mir Fallah (Tehran/ 2001)
  • Actor of the TV series “A House in the Darkness” directed by Saeed Soltani (Tehran/2002-2003)
  • Actor of the movie “Friday’s Soldiers” directed by Masoud Kimiai (Tehran/ 2003)
  • Actor of the play “Unwritten Whispers” directed by Narges Hashempour (Germany/ Berlin/ 2003)
  • Actor of the movie “The Command” directed by Masoud Kimiai (Tehran/ 2004)
  • Actor of the play “Don Camillo” directed by Koroush Narimani (Tehran / 2005)
  • Actor of the play “The Last Hot Summer” (Tehran/ 2005)
  • Director of the play “Plaza Hotel” written by Neil Simon (Tehran/ 2005)
  • Director of “Open Couple” written by Dario Fo (Tehran/ 2005)
  • Director of the play “The House of Bernarda Alba” written by Federico Lorca (Tehran/ 2006)
  • Actor of the play “The Land of Green Plums” directed by Mehdi Afshar (Tehran/2006)
  • Director of “The Wedding of Malayer’s Ruler” written by Fatali  Beigi (Tehran/2006)
  • Actor of the movie “The Boss” directed by Masoud Kimiai (Tehran, 2006)
  • Actor of the movie “The Swindler” directed by Davoudnezhad (Tehran/ 2006)
  • Cooperation with The office of Cultural Affairs of Switzerland Embassy located in Iran for introducing a book called “Shouransbakh Travel Account” (Tehran/ 2006)
  • Play reading of “Shouransbakh Stories” in Iranian Artists Forum (Tehran/ 2006)
  • Play reading of “Shouransbakh Stories” in one of the museums of Isfahan at the invitation of the Embassy of Switzerland attended by the ambassador, first secretary and a member of the Human Rights in this embassy (Isfahan/2006)
  • Play reading of “Shouransbakh Stories” in Iranian Artists Forum (Tehran/2006)
  • Play reading of “Shouransbakh Stories” in one of the museums of Isfahan at the invitation of the Embassy of Switzerland attended by the ambassador, first secretary and a member of the Human Rights in this embassy (Isfahan/2007)
  • Actor of the play “Monks of Plaster Sculptures” written and directed by Mehdi Afshar (Tehran/2007)
  • Actor of the movie “The Settlement” directed by Tahmineh Milani (Tehran/2007)
  • Actor of “Acacia Alley” (Tehran/2007)
  • Director and Actor of the play “The Last Supper” written by Mohammad Charmshir (Tehran/2007)
  • Director of the play “The Virgin of Autumn” written by Mehdi Afshar (Tehran/2007)
  • Actor of the movie “There’s Always a Woman in Between” directed by Kamal Tabrizi (Tehran/ 2008)
  • Director of “The Wedding of Malayer’s Ruler” written by Davoud Fatali Beigi (Tehran/ 2009)
  • Actor of the play “ The Crucible” written by Arthur Miller and directed by Majid Jafari (Tehran/ 2010)
  • Actor of the movie “The Eye” directed by Jamil Rostami (Tehran/2010)
  • Teaching Drama Therapy in Avand institution (Tehran/2011-2013)
  • Writing of 12 short dramas (2006-2015)
  • Playwright and director of “No man’s land” , a plan by Amirhossain Zamzam (Tehran/ 2009)
  • Actor of the movie “Anahita” directed by Hamidnezhad (Tehran/2010)
  • The formation of free classes for vulnerable group of the society (rough sleepers [called cardboard sleepers by Iranians]), first course (Tehran, 2010)
  • The formation of free classes for vulnerable group of the society (rough sleepers [called cardboard sleepers by Iranians]), second course (Tehran, 2014)
  • Participating in Parvaneh Mozhdeh’s classes for becoming familiar with Absurd Style more
  • Director and Actor of the play “Ashes to Ashes” written by Pinter (Tehran/ 2014)
  • Director of the play “Not all Thieves are Harmful” written by Dario Fo (Tehran/2014)
  • Actor of the play “Here is not the Place for You” designed and directed by Afsaneh Mirbagheri (Tehran/ 2015)
  • Designer, Director, Actor of “Be who not you are” Performance in Iran-France festival (Tehran/2015)
  • Designer, Director and Actor of the play “All of You Know Me” in three courses of performance (Tehran/ 2015)
  • Concept , Director and Actor of “Be who not you are” Performance in public show (Tehran/2016)