Berkeley Lecture Series had sponsored a very special show in Berkeley last night. Mansour Taeed’s one-man-show, Bahai Faith 101 was staged in Berkeley’s Gaia Center. Mansour Taeed is one of our most understated local celebrities. Graduating in Physics from UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University, and almost earning a Ph.D. from Columbia before realizing he wanted a career in theater, he went on to become an actor and a director [Darvag & Javane]. Twenty seven years past his first theater work, he is a brilliant actor, an excellent director, and a wonderful citizen of our community. As he wanted to tell the world last night, Mansour Taeed is also a Bahai.
His solo show which started by his symbolically stepping out of a closet at the beginning of the play was a very touching tale. Mansour took us through his childhood in a middle-class Bahai family in Tehran, talking about what it meant to be a member of a minority faith even back then. His sweet and funny tales of his having to wear glasses and be teased by his classmates for it, his first love at 14, and the weekly classes of “Dars-e-Akhlaagh,” where he learned about being a Bahai took the audience on an emotional tour.
Through the close to 2 hours of his reminiscences and funny and sad tales, he managed not so much to demystify the Bahai faith for us, although we did get a pretty good account of life as a Bahai. What Taeed managed with flying colors, all the while making us laugh and cry with him, was not to tell us what made him different from the rest of us, but the millions of ways in which we are similar.
At the heart of his stellar performance, when he was done talking about how his family had been affected by the mistreatment and persecution of Bahais after the revolution, Taeed reminded us all of how much he loves Iran, and how every inch of that land and every one of its people are forever a part of his identity. The most poignant line of his touching performance was when interspersed in his monologue at the end, he repeatedly said: “Maa Jaasoos Nisteem,” and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
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