Co-Founder, Artistic Director
Mohammad Aghebati is a graduate of Theater Directing at Tehran Art University and was a Special Research Fellow at Yale School of Drama. His focus on young audiences is inspired by his deep belief in the power of art as an educational tool.
Aghebati has decades of experience in directing plays for adults and young audiences in his native Iran. He has received various awards for his plays including the Young Artist Medal of Honor from Iran’s former President Mohammad Khatami. Aghebati was a member of the Leev Theater Group, which is known as one of Iran’s most successful and critically acclaimed theater groups. In 2007, Aghebati was selected and commissioned by Japan Foundation to direct a new interpretation of Oedipus Rex, which played in Tokyo. Several of his works have toured various international festivals.
In the US, “Hamlet, Prince of Grief” was presented as a part of the Under the Radar Festival at NYC’s Public Theater, receiving a great review from the New York Times. Since then, it has been presented at Asia Society in New York, Brigham Young University and at University of Southern California, and Sarasota’s Ringling Festival.
Co-founder, Executive Director
Mehrnoush Alia is a filmmaker working between New York and Tehran. She received her MFA in film with honors from Columbia University, and her BA from UC Berkeley in Film Studies and Comparative Literature. During her undergraduate studies, Mehrnoush worked in film distribution and exhibition at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive for three years. In New York, she trained with one of the leading indie film distribution companies, Magnolia Pictures and worked closely with the Director of Acquisitions. She also trained with Michael Hausman—the renowned producer of such films as Amadeus and Gangs of New York—during the production of Downtown Express.
Mehrnoush has also produced over a dozen short films, one feature film, and two of Aghebati’s plays. Her directorial debut Scheherazade has won several awards and screened at over twenty film festivals. She has made several promotional videos and is currently working on establishing the distribution branch of Maaa Film to help promote Iranian films in North America. She is also developing her first feature to shoot in Tehran in 2017.
Afshin Hashemi is an actor, playwright, musician, and director. He holds a Masters in Directing and Acting from the Tehran Arts University. He has been nominated for many awards in Iran, including Best Actor in a Theatrical Role, Best Actor in a TV Drama, and Best Supporting Actor.
In theater, he has worked with such renowned directors such as Bahram Beyzaie, Ali Rafie, Mohammad Rahmanian, Mohammad Rezaierad, and Hamid Amjad. In cinema, he has worked with directors such as Reza MirKarimi, Ebrahim Hatamikia, Mohsen Abdolvahab,Bahram Tavakoli, and Vahid Mousaeian.
Hashemi has written and directed more than 10 plays and 3 movies: Don’t Be Tired, Soft Voice, Temporary License.
Keyvan Sarreshteh received his BA in Puppet Theater and his MFA in playwriting from Tehran University. He has been involved in the theater scene in Tehran for the past eight years as puppeteer, actor, stage manager, playwright, director, and translator.
Keyvan’s play “Apartment” received Special Jury Award at MonoLeev Festival and performed at the 34th Tehran Fadjr Theater Festival where his other play “I Was King Richard” was also performing. He is considered as one of the most prominent young playwrights in Iran and was invited to Zurich Theater Spektakel in 2015.
Reza Behjat works in theater, dance and film. He started his career in Iran where he worked with some of the prominent directors on various theater productions for several years. Reza finds himself open to adventure in his work and tries unknown experiences to create art. In the process of being an international artist and developing his knowledge and experiences, he decided to leave Iran. In 2014, he moved to New York City to pursue his MFA degree in Lighting Design at New York University – Tisch School of the Arts where he was offered a full ride. He is the recipient of several fellowships including Design Fellowship at Chautauqua Theater Company, and DesignWing Fellow at Great Plains Theater Conference (GPTC).
Rodrik Biersteker is a multidisciplinary artist making video for theater and installations. Rodrik started to develop a career in video design in Utrecht School of the Arts. After that he started to work as a video design associate with Ivo van Hove at the internationally acclaimed Toneelgroep Amsterdam, working on productions like The Russians, Husbands, The Fountainhead, and Kings of War. In 2014 he started working with director Susanne Kennedy and did the video design for De Pelikaan at Toneelgroep Amsterdam, followed by Orfeo (2015) and Medea (2016) for the Ruhrtriennale.
His first collaboration with Maaa was for “I Was King Richard” in 2016.
Ilia Shams started his career in 2010 as a journalist and soon became the editor-in-chief of a leading online theater magazine in Iran. In 2012, he was awarded the Best Online Journalist Award from the Ordibehesht Theater Festival. Since 2011, he has worked as the public relation for various theater, film, and music companies. He also founded the prominent theater website, theaterbazha.com that attacks thousands of visitors daily. He soon began his international PR work in Canada for Diyar Company under the management of Sahra Fathi, and later as the digital marketing manager of A Requiem for Fereidoun, a celebrated production of Peiman Ghadimi in collaboration with the acclaimed composer Hossein Alizade. Until today, he has collaborated with over a hundred productions as the PR and digital marketing manager in projects such as Decolore, Vistak, and the Italian production Lev. He joined Maaa Art from its inception and succeeded in several sold out shows in Iran and New York.