Comrade Roknoddin Khosravi - a popular artist, one of the founders of modern dramatic arts in our country and a tireless activist of the party of the working people - passed away on January 15th in London, after a painful battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Cicero had said “Let history itself talk” and Comrade Khosravi always spoke in his own words in performing arts language: “It is on the clear (transparent) stages of theatre that we see our ideal role and discover the truth of our being…”
Comrade Roknoddin Khosravi was born on 7 March 1930 in Tehran and graduated from Tehran’s Alborz High School in 1948, entering the Law School of Tehran University the following year. In 1950 he quit the Law School and instead entered the Literature Faculty of the same university. As part of his education in the Literature Faculty, Comrade Khosravi attended Dr. Mehdi Forough’s theatre classes and began a fruitful collaboration with him which eventually was to lead to the foundation of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts of Tehran, which became the most distinguished school of its kind in the Middle East. In 1955, Comrade Khosravi taught performing arts on the six-month theatre course at Tehran University led by Davidson, a US professor of theatre. His first theatre performance was in “Father”, a play by August Strindberg which was translated and directed by Mehdi Forough. He then (1962) performed in “Inferno” (No Exit) by Jean Paul Sartre and in “Andorra” by Max Frisch, directed by Hamid Samandarian. With the opening of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts of Tehran, of which he was himself one of the founders and teachers, Comrade Khosravi began teaching the History of Greek and Roman Literature, and in the meantime began to study acting and directing in the same faculty, and soon graduated. In 1970, Comrade Khosravi went to England and studied Theatre Teaching at the Drama Centre London where he received his master’s degree.
Comrade Khosravi had his own style of directing and wrote regularly. He worked with, trained and influenced three generations of Iranian actors and directors. With his distinctive and innovative style, he took to the stage many plays from Iranian and non-Iranian playwrights including Bertolt Brecht, Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre, Sophocles, and many others. Through these innovative performances, he left a long-lasting impact and legacy on the development of the dramatic arts of Iran.
As the shadow of a medieval tyranny continued to fall across the arts and culture of our homeland, Comrade Khosravi retired from theatre and teaching theatre studies. During the second round-up of the Tudeh Party of Iran, he was arrested and detained on 27 April 1983 and imprisoned for several years. In 1996 he was forced to go into unwanted exile. Whether in Iran or in exile, Comrade Khosravi never ceased performing his duties as a militant member of the Tudeh (People’s) Party and from the time he started life abroad, he took part in the activities of the ranks of the Party with a distinct enthusiasm.
The significant writings of Comrade Khosravi in Donya (the theoretical magazine of the Party) and Nameh Mardom (the political organ of the Party) are among the most memorable works of this popular and Tudehi artist. At the invitation of the Stop the War Coalition, and alongside anti-war luminaries such as Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn, he also spoke on 18 March 2006, in Trafalgar Square, London, on behalf of the Committee for the Defence of the Iranian People’s Rights (CODIR) about the urgency of establishing peace in the world. In this gathering of a hundred thousand peace-loving demonstrators, Comrade Khosravi pointed out the warmongering policies of the United States and stated:
“The interventionist policies of the United States and its European allies will only truly help the continuation of the suppressive regime that rules Iran. It is no coincidence that amid the demagogic policies and anti-US slogans of the regime, and hiding behind the slogan of “Iran’s national interests” in the peaceful exploitation of nuclear energy, an unprecedented attack has been organised in recent months against the independent labour movement of our country, including the union activists of the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company, against the student movement and against all reformist forces. Amidst its anti-US rhetoric, the Ahmadinejad government has tabled and implemented one of the most reactionary state budgets in recent years in line with the interests of large capital and its affiliates, along with a series of anti-people policies. Two weeks ago, the peaceful rally on 8 March, International Women’s Day, was attacked by the police and security forces. Ms. Simin Behbahani, a prominent Iranian poet, 80 years old, was severely injured. Clearly, Iran’s progressive and freedom-loving forces strongly oppose any kind of imperialist intervention in the domestic affairs of our country and fiercely fight against such policies. However, this principled policy cannot be remoulded to defending a regime that is the biggest obstacle in the path of the progress of our country towards freedom, democracy, peace, true independence and social justice.” (From Nameh Mardom, No. 735, 30 March 2006)
The deep respect of Tudeh comrades for the people-oriented and humanitarian character of Comrade Khosravi was such that he was invited to open the great celebration event of the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Tudeh Party of Iran, which was held in London. He accepted this invitation and presented Comrade Ali Khavari’s message of greeting to the hundreds of attendees. Comrade Khosravi was also elected as a delegate to attend the Sixth Congress of the Tudeh Party of Iran in February 2013. For many of his comrades and delegates to the congress this was the last time they met Comrade Khosravi.
The body of the late Comrade Khosravi was fittingly seen off by a large crowd of leading artists and art lovers as well as by his friends and comrades, and was buried in Tehran. With the passing away of Comrade Roknoddin Khosravi, our nation and the Tudeh Party of Iran has lost a prominent and humanitarian artist and a popular militant activist.
The Tudeh Party of Iran extends its condolences to the wife, children, and family of Comrade Khosravi, and also to Tudeh comrades, all the art lovers of the nation, and to his artist friends and comrades.
His memory will be cherished. Many will follow in his footsteps.
The Central Committee of the Tudeh Party of Iran
5 February 2017