"For me there were two outstanding small-scale touring productions during the year and I really can’t decide between them, so I’ll split the award between Greyscale’s Gods Are Fallen and All Safety Gone (Greyscale is now based in Newcastle) and ZENDEH’s one-woman show CINEMA."
Peter Latham, Review of the Year 2015, British Theatre Guide

19th August 1978. Cinema Rex fire, Abadan, Iran. 422 dead.

The year of Superman, Saturday Night Fever, and an act of terror that sparked a revolution. Who will remember the dead?

Shahrzad - feral cat, teller of tales - pleads with Death for one more life. To have another saucer of milk. To tell the stories of the dead. For eternity.

Utoya, Paris, Baga, Peshawar, Aleppo, New York, London, Abadan... What matters now is that the names are not forgotten.


On the 19th of August 1978, in the southern city of Abadan, Iran, during the screening of a controversial film called Gavaznaha (The Deer), the Cinema Rex was set alight from within. Four hundred people perished; to this day it is one of the largest terrorist atrocities committed against civilians. Told from the viewpoint of a Feral Cat, CINEMA will blend powerful, narrative storytelling and dramatic action, interwoven with film and a musical score. A solo show, CINEMA will explore the essence of dynamic physical, vocal and multi-disciplinary performance and ask us to acknowledge the dead and celebrate their stories up until and beyond that tragic night.

"Cinema is a beautifully lyrical piece ... too resonant with today and the nameless, anonymous numbers of murdered individuals that are glimpsed every night on the news."
Disability Arts Online

"Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh's subtle and affecting performance wheels easily between a wondrous disbelief at the cruelty of events and a homespun glee at the simple pleasure of an overflowing saucer or the warmth of a cushion up in the projection booth. The course of Scheherazade's nine lives has taken her across the turmoil of a nation in revolution and Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh's performance crackles with tenderness as she recounts each of her lives snuffed out amid the bustle and noise of an Iran torn between eastern and western identity. "
★ ★ ★ ★ The List

"An ingenious piece of multimedia theatre which interweaves video projections and sound clips, 'Cinema' aims to show the impact of the political upon the personal, to do justice to the individuals caught in the wider narrative of history. The play takes as its focal point the 1978 arson attack upon an Iranian cinema that constituted the gravest terrorist attack pre 9/11, killing five hundred people. This attack against the influence of western culture changed the course of history, triggering the Iranian revolution. Playing with the theme of story-telling and referencing 'One Thousand and One Nights', the stories of the victims of the attack are told by one of the sole survivors; the cinema's in-house cat Scheherazade. "
★ ★ ★ ★ Three Weeks

"Composer Mariam Rezaei's powerful score and Matt Jamie's beautiful video projections provide a haunting backdrop to this powerful poetic fable that would better suit a late night slot, if its message wasn't one of nightmares."
★ ★ ★ ★ Edinburgh Festivals Magazine

Artistic Director & Performer - Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh
Writer - Steven Gaythorpe
Rehearsal Director - Simon Startin
Lighting Designer, Production & Stage Manager - Stacey Choudhury-Potter
Composer - Mariam Rezaei - read her blog
Costume Designer - Harry Whitham
BSL Interpreter - Nicole Vivien-Watson
Documentation / Film Projection - Matt Jamie