• Mohammad Aghebati

    Co-Founder & Artistic Director

    Mohammad Aghebati is an award-winning Iranian theater director, stage designer and actor. He studied Theater Directing at Tehran University of Art and began his career as an Assistant Director of three of the most well-respected theater directors in Iran. Upon graduation, he became a member of the Leev Theater Group, one of Iran’s most successful and critically acclaimed theater groups. He has directed over forty plays inside Iran and internationally, including Oedipus (AKA Jocasta) that was commissioned by Japan Foundation; Hamlet, Prince of Grief (a free adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet) that premiered at Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival in New York, and Kiss You and Tears that was invited for a national tour in Germany when he was only 26-years-old.

    Mohammad was invited to the United States through an artist residency at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2009.  Two years later, he immigrated to the United States and was offered a Special Research Fellowship at Yale University, School of Drama, and received his M.F.A in Performance and Media Arts from Brooklyn College.  He has been a directing and acting instructor in various institutions including Tehran University and Shanghai School of Drama.  He often serves as a jury member at various festivals and acts in plays and film projects notably at Modest Reception (Berlinale 2012) and They (Cannes 2017).  Aghebati’s latest production “Rooftop” has been selected for the Next Stage Residency at DramaLeague 2021.

  • Mehrnoush Alia

    Co-founder, Executive Director, Playwright

    Mehrnoush Alia is an Iranian-American filmmaker and playwright.  She received her MFA with honors from Columbia University Film Program and her BA in Film Studies and Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. 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.  As a playwright and play producer, she wrote two original plays “Blackout” and “On Hold” and also adapted “The Little Black Fish” for stage, all of which were directed by Mohammad Aghebati.

    Mehrnoush has produced over a dozen short films which have screened at hundreds of international film festivals.   She is the co-founder of Maaa Art, a film sales and production company that works between New York and Tehran to bring stories from the Middle East to the world with special focus on those of women, diaspora communities, and human rights.  Maaa Film represented films have screened at many prestigious festivals such as BFI, Hot Docs, and Sebastopol.  Her directorial debut, Scheherazades, screened at over 30 film festivals and received several awards.  A feature film version of that horror film is being developed to shoot in NY later this year by her classmate.  Her debut feature, “Nilou”, is being developed to shoot in Tehran by Winter 2021.  Mehrnoush has also written and produced two feature documentaries that are currently in post-production. Her interactive documentary Scheherazade Now about domestic violence in Iran that she wrote and co-produced was selected for IDFA Pitch Forum and received full funding from Stimulerings Funds.  It will launch online in June.  Her feature scripts have been selected to develop at programs such as Cine Qua Non Lab and Cannes Cinephilia Productions Residency.  Mehrnoush is an alumna of Berlin Talent Campus 2020.

  • Afshin Hashemi

    Actor & Acting Coach

    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 a dozen plays and four movies: Don’t Be Tired, Soft Voice, Temporary License, and Aunti Frog.

  • Keyvan Sarreshteh

    Guest Playwright

    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.

    His recent production Nambordeh was produced by one of Iran’s leading directors and featured Negar Javaherian and Atila Pesiani.

  • Reza Behjat

    Set and Lighting Designer

    Reza Behjat is a New York based lighting designer working in theater, dance and film. He began his career in Iran – where he was born and raised – working with some of the prominent directors on various productions for several years.

    In the process of being an international artist and expanding 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 for three years..

    He is the recipient of several awards and fellowships including prestigious award of Knight of Illumination for Nina Simone: Four Women in 2019, Henry Hewes Design award (Nomination), Design Fellowship at Chautauqua Theater Company, DesignWing Fellow at Great Plains Theater Conference (GPTC), Best Lighting Design and Best Costume Design (Iran International Festival of University Theater), and Best Set Design for “The Little Black Fish”, from Hamedan International Theater Festival for Children and Youth.

    Reza is a member of United Scenic Artists Local USA 829 and Wingspace Theatrical Design.

  • Rodrik Biersteker

    Video Designer

    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.

  • Mehdi Chakeri

    Guest Writer

    Mohammadmehdi Chakeri was born in 1986, in Tehran, Iran. In 2009, Mehdi graduated from Tehran University of Arts by directing a performance of “The Mandrake”, a play by “Niccolò Machiavelli”. After graduation, Mehdi joined Leev Theatre Academy and collaborated in different projects as assistant director under the supervision of Mohammad Hasan Majuni. He continued his education in Cinema Studies and graduated in 2014 by making a film called “Final Project”. Since 2012, Mehdi has taken on roles as a playwright, dramaturge and executive producer collaborating with several distinguished Iranian directors including Mohammad Aghebati, Mohamadhasan Majouni, and Azadeh Shahmiri. He has been running playwriting workshops for students of Tehran University of Arts since 2019. Mehdi has been awarded in various festivals in Iran including, best playwright in Monoleev Festival (2014), best playwright in national student festival (2015) and best screenwriter in national student festival (2016). He was elected as one of the directors of 7th Monoleev Festival in 2019 and is the Chief Editing Officer of Leev Publication. 

  • Raha Jahanshahi

    Producer & Production Manager

    Raha Jahanshahi has worked as a Producer and Production Manager of over 150 productions during the past decade.  She holds a BA in Theater Directing and is the winner of several awards including Best Director at Tehran Student Theater Festival, Best Director from Tehran Shahr Festival, and Best Actress Award at Tehran Short Festival in 2010.  Raha is also an educator and has a passion for children plays which has led her to teach theater at Kanoon and various high schools through the past few years where she also directed plays for children.  She has collaborated with Mohammad Aghebati on four of his productions for children as the Production Manager.

  • Hengameh Fallah

    Assistant Director & Coordinator

    Hengameh Fallah is a Brooklyn-based artist. She is the founder of Aasoo Performing Arts, a dynamic platform that brings Middle Eastern and other communities together with the mission of cultural exchange and social change through theatre and performing arts. She directed Partners In Crime by Eric Emmanuel Schmitt in August 2018 at Gibney Studio, Manhattan, NY. She produced this piece with the help of the Iranian Community of the Northeast (ICON) volunteers, and funding of Citizens Committee for New York City (CCNYC). She has also directed and produced a physical theater piece, Ingress.  A try-out of Ingress went on stage in Emruz Festival, April 2019, Brooklyn, NY. She is currently working on hCG, a multi-disciplinary piece in collaboration with Lebanese artists. She presented a virtual performance of the project hCG in Emruz Virtual Series, April 2020. Hengameh has acting experiences in plays such as Khaaneh directed by Kiomars Moradi, Black-out directed by Mohammad Aghebati, and The Only Possible Way directed by Mohammad Yaghoubi, in 2016, Dallas, TX.

  • Asieh Ahani

    Actor

    Asieh Ahani is a Data Scientist working in the financial industry in New York. Asieh has been a member of Maaa Theatre since 2018 and has also helped the team with residency and grant applications. She has participated in Monologue and Dialogue Maaa Theater workshops.  Aside from acting, she is assistant producer and coordinator of Maaa programs and assists the team with residency and grants. She enjoys reading and playing Daaf in her spare time.

  • Ali Akhavan

    Actor

    Ali Akhavan is a filmmaker at night and a software engineer by day. He has made short films on themes like relationships, immigration, and life in New York City (available at vimeo.com/nomadali). He has also helped produce other indie films such as Story of Benjamin and American Mermaid. In theatre, Ali has taken beginner courses in acting as well as playwriting at HB Studio. He has been a member of the Maaa Theater New York-based group since June 2019 as an actor.  Ali helps Maaa Theater in documenting workshops and productions.  

  • Sahar Ghanavati

    Actor

    Sahar Ghanavati has a Ph.D. in Medical BioPhysics from the University of Toronto and has been working in tech startups in New York City since 2016. She attended a theater performance class taught by Narmin Nazmi and assisted in the performance of “Pardekhaneh” by Bahram Beyzayi in high school. She has been a member of Sharif University’s student theater group and performed and assisted in 3 plays, including “Beautiful” by Jon Fosse and “Interview” by Mohammad Rahmanian. She has been attending Aghebati’s theater workshops since 2019.

  • Iman Hajirasouliha

    Actor

    Iman Hajirasouliha is a Computational Biology Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. He enjoys exploring performing arts, acting and long form improvisation. He participated in the Aasoo Performing Arts group from October 2018 to February 2020.  He performed in a physical theater piece produced by Aasoo Performing Arts, “Ingress” directed by Hengameh Fallah, at the inaugural Emruz Festival – Spectrum, April 2019, Brooklyn, NY. Iman has also taken Improv classes at the People Improv Theatre (PIT) and acting classes at The Barrow Group in New York City between 2016 and 2019. He has been a member of the Maaa Theater New York-based group since June 2019 as an actor and has also helped the team with residency and grant applications.

  • Koosha Kalhor

    Actor

    Koosha Kalhor is an engineering professional currently living in New York City. Kalhor started playing the piano when he was 11 and has performed a few times on stages in Tehran, Iran. After moving to NYC and attending a few sessions of theater play readings, he gradually started to feel affection for acting and theater. He became a member of Aasoo Performing Art group (2018-2019) and served as the Technical Assistant in the “Ingress” show performed at New York’s “Emruz” Festival in April 2019. He has participated in a number of Maaa Theater’s acting workshops including Monologue (2018), Dialogue (2019), and Theater Acting (2019-2020). He has been a member of  NYC’s Maaa Theater group since June 2019 as an actor, assistant playwright, and photographer.

  • Pedram Massoudi

    Actor

    Pedram Massoudi studied Transportation and Civil Engineering at Sharif University and has worked in this field during the past decade.  He is currently based in New York City, and has attended the workshops of Monologue, Dialogue, and Acting (September 2018 – present) under the supervision of Mohammad Aghebati. Pedram is a member of the Maaa Theater since June 2019 as an actor.

  • Mahsa Mehrad

    Actor

    Mahsa Mehrdad is a Senior Process Engineer working in an environmental industry in New York City. Mahsa co-founded a play-reading program for the Farsi-speaking community in New York City which has been running since 2017. She also has been practicing in Aasoo Performing Arts (August 2017- August 2019) and performed in a play reading performance based on “Partners in Crime” by Eric Emmanuel Schmitt, directed by Hengameh Fallah, August 2018 at Gibney Studio, Manhattan, NY. She also performed in “Ingress”, a physical theater piece produced by Aasoo Performing Arts directed by Hengameh Fallah, at the inaugural Emruz Festival – Spectrum, April 2019, Brooklyn, NY. Mahsa has been a member of Maaa Theatre since 2018 and has participated in the Mohammad Aghebati’s Monologue and Dialogue Workshops. She helps Maaa Theater in coordinating its programs as well as with residency and grant applications.

     

  • Ehsan Najafi

    Actor

    Ehsan Najafi is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Environmental Sciences Initiative of the City University of New York. Ehsan joined Maaa Theater in 2018 as an actor and took part in Aghebati’s various theater workshops. Ehsan is also a member of the Aasoo Performing Arts theatre group and he was a backstage assistant in “Ingress” a physical theater piece produced in this group in 2019. Ehsan enjoys drawing,  watching movies, and listening to music especially rock and jazz. Ehsan helps Maaa theater with social media.

  • Borna Nemati

    Actor

    Borna Nemati has studied Visual Art/ Radio and TV Production at Brooklyn College since 2015. He was a theater director/writer at Norooz Festival in Boulder University, Colorado, 2011. He performed in “Ingress”, directed by Hengameh Fallah, presented as part of the Emruz Festival (2019, NY).  Borna has collaborated with Aasoo Performing Arts since December 2018 and with Maaa Theater since June 2019 as an actor. He also worked on several radio, TV, and film productions, as a Sound Mixer/post-production/actor. Recent examples include: “unproductive” (web series) 2019- present, Camera operator in “An Action Piece” (short movie) 2018, Producer in World Wide Music_ (radio segment for SCCC Radio) 2017, Director/ Writer in “A Piece of The Pie” (Experimental short film) 2016, Camera operator, and director in “Saporo Fino” (Feature story) 2016. Aside from acting, Borna helps Maaa Theater in documenting workshops and productions.

  • Sharareh Noorbaloochi

    Actor

    Sharareh Noorbaloochi is a Lead Data Scientist in an AI startup. She became interested in theatre after moving to New York City and attended the workshops of Monologue, Dialogue, and Acting (September 2018 – present) in New York City, under the supervision of Mohammad Aghebati. Sharareh has appeared in a short film “Simin Daneshvar – Early Iranian at Stanford” in 2008 and is currently involved as an actor in Aghabati’s latest theatre project in NYC. Sharareh holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University and is passionate about social justice. Her published work ranges from morality and political psychology to neuroscience of decision making. Aside from acting, Sharareh is Assistant producer, and helps Maaa Theater with residency, grant applications, and public relations. 

  • Masih Rahmati

    Actor

    Masih Rahmati is a Cognitive Neuroscience postdoctoral researcher at New York University. Masih is interested in performing arts and music; he plays Tombak (an Iranian percussion instrument) and has been involved with a couple of college bands.  He has been a member of Aasoo Performing Arts (August 2017- Sep 2019) and performed in a play reading performance based on “Partners in Crime” by Eric Emmanuel Schmitt, directed by Hengameh Fallah, August 2018 at Gibney Studio, Manhattan, NY. He also performed in “Ingress“, a physical theater piece produced in Aasoo Performing Arts and directed by Hengameh Fallah, at the Emruz Festival, April 2019, Brooklyn, NY. He has attended the workshops of Monologue, Dialogue, and Acting (September 2018 – present) in New York City, under the supervision of Mohammad Aghebati. He has been a member of the Maaa Theater since June 2019 as an actor and  helps the team with movement training as well as residency and grant applications.  

  • Maedeh Soleimanifar

    Actor

    Maedeh Soleimanifar is a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She was an assistant director in the “John and Joe” show (2015, Iran). She acted in “Partners in Crime” play-reading performance (2018, NY) and performed in the “Ingress” at Emruz Festival (2019, NY). She was a member of Ashu Theater Group and Aasoo Performing Arts. Maedeh has attended an acting class by Amir Badrtaleiee (2010, Iran) and also several workshops including “Creative Acting and Directing” workshop by Alireza Koushk Jalaly (2014, Iran); “Monologue” workshop by Mohammad Aghebati (2018, NY); Performance Workshop “Creation through the path of discovery” by Niyoosha Ahmadikhoo (2018, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, NY); “Dialogue” workshop by Mohammad Aghebati (2019, NY). She has been a member of the Maaa Theater since June 2019 as an actor.

  • Mehrdad Valinasab

    Actor

    Mehrdad Valinasab is a professional engineer in the Biomedical industry who finds joy in theater and more specifically in acting. Mehrdad has been a member of the Maaa Theater since June 2019, where he attended the workshops of Dialogue and Acting under the supervision of Mohammad Aghebati. Previously and when he was living in Canada, Mehrdad joined “Raha Theatre Group”; a community theatre group in Calgary; where he performed in two plays: “The Only Possible Way” (January 2012) and “To Smoke / Not to Smoke” (February 2014) both directed by Amir Salehi and written by two prominent Iranian playwrights, Mohammad Yaghoubi and Mohammad Rahmanian; respectively.

  • Mojtaba Adibi

    Graphic Designer & Illustrator

    Mojtaba Adibi has worked as a graphic designer for many brands and some of the most artistically acclaimed music and theater productions in Iran.  He studied Persian Carpet Design and his interest in traditional Persian Art has influenced his work.  His graphic design and illustrations have featured in several international festivals and markets.  An example of his work with international organizations is his celebrated work for Amnesty International.   Adibi was awarded for his work at the forth Tehran International Graphic Biennale in 2015.  

  • Bartiba Aghebati

    Associate Producer and PR
  • Ilia Shams

    Social Media Manager

    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.