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The Botanist Monsieur Jordan and The Sorcerer-Dervish Mastali Shah by M.F. Akhundov

The Botanist Monsieur Jordan and The Sorcerer-Dervish Mastali Shah by M.F. Akhundov

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The 1st English translation of M.F. Akhundov's famous comedy "The Botanist Monsieur Jordan and The Sorcerer-Dervish Mastali Shah".
The 1st English translation of M.F. Akhundov's famous comedy "The Botanist Monsieur Jordan and The Sorcerer-Dervish Mastali Shah".

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Published by: defo847 on Apr 27, 2010
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Mi r z a Ft al a i Aknv hd uo
T e oai Mo s u Jra h B t s ni rodn nt e ad n T e ocr - e i Ma a Sa h Sr e D r s s l hh er vh ti

T e o n t ni rodn n T e ocr - e i Mati hh h B t i Mos u Jra ad h S r e D r s s lS a as e er vh a

C vr ei b oeds n y g Snn l e aa Ai v y

Tald S n Alv rse y a n i n tb a y a e Adtb vP r ad Da ay p y i r e d

The Botanist Monsieur Jordan and The Sorcerer-Dervish Mastali Shah

The Botanist Monsieur Jordan and The Sorcerer-Dervish Mastali Shah
by Mirza Fatali Akhundov Translated from the original Azerbaijani language by Sanan Aliyev and Adapted by David Parry with an introductory essay

NEPTUNE PRESS 49a Museum Street, London WC1A 1LY, England neptune@neptunepress.com Edition © Neptune Press 2010 Translation © Sanan Aliyev All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the publisher. ISBN 0-9547063-7-4



t is with the greatest pleasure I would like to thank all of those who have helped in the production of this text including: gruntlers arts group; the European Azerbaijan Society; the Caspian-khazri Society; Atlantis Bookshop. Immense gratitude is also due to a number of hard working individuals including; David Parry for his diligent reading of the play, as well as meticulously adapting each act for the British stage; Sabina Rakcheyeva, Arts and Cultural advisor of TEAS; and lastly, Simon Powley at Arts Educational School. Sanan Aliyev London 2010

About Author page 9 Translator page 11 Adaptor page 11 Introductory Essay page 13 Characters page 17 Act one page 19 Act Two page 29 Act Three page 39 Act Four page 45 Endnotes page 63 original Performing Cast page 64

irza Fatali Akhundov (1812-1878) was born in Nukha (modern Shaki), Azerbaijan. he is celebrated to this day as a playwright, author, philosopher and grammarian. often referred to as the “Moliere of the orient”, Akhundov is principally known for his European-inspired plays in the Azeri language. Across the decades, critics have commented that he initiated a new level of development in Azerbaijani literature, while being considered one of the leading lights of modern Iranian narrative. His first published work, The Oriental Poem (1837), lamented the death of Alexander Pushkin. In 1859, Akhundov published his short, but now famous novel The Deceived Stars, laying the foundation of Azerbaijani Realist Prose. his popular comedies established historical Realism as the leading trend in Azerbaijani stagecraft, The Botanist Monsieur Jordan and the Sorcerer-Dervish Mastali Shah (1851), representing a superb example of a cross-cultural comedy of errors.





anan Aliyev was born in Azerbaijan in 1986. After graduating in oriental Studies from Baku State University, he moved to Britain in 2009 to continue his linguistic research. As a wellknown translator of Azeri poetry and drama into the English language, he became co-founder of “gruntlers”, an international Arts group, giving regular performances of his own eclectic work at the Poetry Café in Covent garden, London. his lifelong love of drama led to the performance of M.F.Akhundov’s famous play “The Botanist Monsieur Jordan and the Sorcerer – Dervish Mastali Shah” on the British stage.

avid Parry was born in Portsmouth, England, in 1958. he graduated in Religious Studies from kings College kQC, London, later continuing his theological research at heythrop College, London. By profession, he teaches Contemporary English Literature, Language and Semantics. As an established poet and practising heathen, Parry has given readings and lectures across London and the South of England since 1996. he has published a number of reviews, experimental essays and theological comment pieces, along with two critically acclaimed prose-poetry collections, “Caliban’s Redemption” (Mandrake 2004), and “The Grammar of Witchcraft” (Mandrake 2009). he is the founder of “gruntlers” and this adaptation marks his debut as a contributor to English theatre.





ranus fathered the Titans. Perhaps that is why he appears to disturb the planetary pundits of received astrological theory. At times, they seem incapable of making up their minds as to whether this is a baleful sphere or not, since he is the source of weird as well as wonderful, creatures. Certainly, his celestial presence in the skies seems to generate (for them), ominous influences against the overly comfortable and cosy cultural orthodoxy of ages past. Uranus’ very house appears to prize the outlandish and the perfectible; they say. Beware of the colourful ambiguities cast by his shadow; they also whisper. however, the Holy Books tell us that wise men once followed a Star to find a god. A truly sacred tale, which is by no means trivial in our own time, even though we need to recapture the spirit of such a symbolic pilgrimage in contemporary forms. It is, after all, a journey in pursuit of personal freedom: a comedic marathon racing towards poetry, politics, theatre and storytelling, on both a Microcosmic, not to mention, Macrocosmic scale. Dramatists, nevertheless, are not always the best people to analyse their own theatrical temptations. They are either too immersed in their own philosophical paradigm’s to be genuine revolutionaries, or else busy sitting on a pseudo-objective fence, whereby authentic spiritual insights become impossible. Twin horns of an inherited dilemma which only partially impaled Mirza Fatali Akhundov (1812-1878) the free-thinking Azerbaijani Bard. Indeed, as a playwright who fathered the fathers of modern Near Eastern literature, these perplexities simply add substance to reviews surrounding the satirical humour characteristic of his early work. A literary period when his lyrical voice fought to find vivid, coherent, expression. Moreover, they frame present-day critical opinion, wherein some commentators claim Akhundov’s legacy has become a unique spur in genuine intercultural dialogue. Noticeably, his dramatic bequest is awash with caricatured depictions of inert traditions, chauvinism and rampant religious bigotry, reflecting the Playwrights firm grip on our common humanity. A stance, unarguably, favoured by both poets and soldiers who uphold

Presenting extraordinary incidents in four acts

MoNSIEUR JoRDANa Botanist, Parisian, 40 years old LoRD hATAMkhAN Ruler of the Takla-Muganli hamlet, Kharabagian, 65 years old LADY ShAhRABANU His wife, 45 years old LADY ShARAFNISA His elder daughter, 16 years old gULChohRA His youngest daughter, 9 years old MR. ShAhBAz His nephew, betrothed to his eldest daughter, 22 years old hANPERI Nanny of Lady Sharafnisa, 40 years old DERvISh MASTALI ShAh Famous sorcerer, Iranian, 50 years old gULAMALI Mastali Shah’s pupil, Iranian, 30 years old





arabakh (1848): It is early spring and the day after the Nowruz holiday. The scene opens at a winter encampment in TaklaMughanli. Lord Hatamkhan’s room is fully carpeted. To one corner, there are stacked bags of flour; in another corner, there are bladders filled with butter and bales of wool. Seated near the bales, Lady Sharafnisa is combing wool, and quietly weeping. Her younger sister Gulchohra is playing by her side. Gulchohra (reaching out to Lady Sharafnisa): Why are you crying, sister? Lady Sharafnisa (repels sister’s outstretched hand): go to blazes! Gulchohra (naughtily, extending her hand again): Sister, please, for the sake of Allah, tell me, why are you crying? Lady Sharafnisa (repels her outstretched hand again): I told you, go to blazes! Don’t you see I am working? Don’t bother me. Let me work! Gulchohra (as before): But you are not working, only crying. Tell me, why are you crying? If you don’t tell me, I will call mother. Come on tell me, why are you weeping? (pulls off Lady Sharafnisa’s head scarf) Lady Sharafnisa (taking offence, forcefully, repels her. Gulchohra falls): Pah, the impudence! Just go away?! Let me finish my work! Gulchohra rises and exits in tears. She goes to her mother, Lady Shahrabanu, in another room. Lady Sharafnisa (alone): The sheer impudence! Now mother will be told

everything. My Allah, if mother comes and asks me, why are you weeping, how will I answer her? oh, I can never say why I am in tears! The best thing to do is to deny that I have been crying. (Carefully wiping her eyes with her headscarf) The door opens; enter Gulchohra with Lady Shahrabanu who is knitting a sock. Lady Shahrabanu: Why did you knock my little girl to the floor? Lady Sharafnisa (threateningly): Drop dead! She doesn’t sit quietly still for a minute. Since this morning, she hasn’t let me comb two wisps of wool. All this time, she’s been naughty; snatching the wool from my hands and pulling my scarf from my head. I got bored with it and pushed her gently away. She then ran off to you in a tantrum. No blood was spilt! Gulchohra: Mother, I swear to Allah! She is lying! She wasn’t combing wool, but crying all the time. I said don’t weep, and she pushed me. That’s how I fell and hurt myself (crying and wiping her eyes).

Lady Shahrabanu: Why are you crying, Sharafnisa? What do you have to grieve or weep about? glory to Allah, your father is alive, your mother is alive. As you can see, your betrothed is a handsome man. You eat well, you have pretty dresses. What are you crying for? Lady Sharafnisa: I swear to Allah, mother, I wasn’t! (pinching Gulchohra) Dead girl, when was I crying? (Gulchohra cries in pain once again)

Lady Sharafnisa: honestly, I wasn’t crying, Mother! Praise Allah, my father is alive; mother is alive, so why should I cry?! Lady Shahrabanu (laughing): Why didn’t you say anything about your betrothed? After all, you are betrothed! Lady Sharafnisa (ironically): Who’s betrothed?! Lady Shahrabanu: Who’s betrothed? You are to your cousin Mr. Shahbaz! Whose betrothed do you think he is? Your father, Allah willing, in three weeks time, is going to hold your wedding, which will be famed throughout the entire karabakh region. only two days ago he wrote a letter to his friend, Lord kurban of zardab to contract with Shamakhi musicians, so that they can play at the wedding. Lady Sharafnisa (squeezing her lower lip between thumb and forefinger and pulling it down; raises her head): oh! What are you talking about, Mum? Shahbaz is leaving in ten days. (sarcastically) Who’s wedding is my father preparing? I don’t know! Lady Shahrabanu (with surprise): Shahbaz is leaving? Where is he going? With whom is he going? What are you talking about? For the sake of Allah, don’t invent such tales! Yes, I can see you really were crying! It turns out that in fact “girls have little minds and lots of tears”. Tell me, who said to you that Shahbaz is leaving? Lady Sharafnisa (lowers her head): he told me himself!

Lady Shahrabanu: What? But where is he going? Lady Sharafnisa: I don’t know, he said something like “Frankistan” or, I don’t know exactly, “Parij”..? To hell with them, I can’t even pronounce them. Lady Shahrabanu: okay, but with whom is he going to Parij? Lady Sharafnisa: With our guest, Monsieur Jordan! Lady Shahrabanu: With him, our Frankish, who collects all kinds of brushwood? Why is he going there? What dealings does he have with this Frankish man? Did his dog lose its way in Parij? Lady Sharafnisa: I don’t know! Shahbaz is an inexperienced boy. Monsieur Jordan hammered into his head that girls, as well as brides in Parij, appear in public with uncovered faces. And lots of other things I don’t remember. he became crazy and said that he had to go and see Parij for himself. First, he muttered that he would ask permission from his uncle. After this, if he didn’t get it, he said he would take a horse at night to cross the Araz River and meet Monsieur Jordan on the other side; going with him to admire Parij and see the sights. Lady Shahrabanu (throws the half knitted sock to the floor, turning to her little daughter): gulchohra, go and call Shahbaz here from the other room. Let’s hear what his story is? Gulchohra exits.

Contents a - Monsieur Jordan is actually Alexis Jordan (1814-1879), a historically prominent French botanist. 2a - Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, laid the foundations for modern schemes of binomial nomenclature. 2b - Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656 -1708) was a French botanist, notable as the first to make a clear definition of the concept of genus for plants. 2c - John Bartram (1699 - 1777) was an early American botanist, horticulturalist and explorer. 2d - george Clifford III (1685 - 1760) was a wealthy Dutch banker and one of the directors of the Dutch East India Company. he is known for his keen interest in plants and gardens. his estate had a rich variety of plants and he engaged the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus to write hortus Cliffortianus (1737), a masterpiece of early botanical literature. 3a - Qizilbash or kizilbash is a name given to a wide variety of Shi‘i militant groups that flourished in Anatolia and Kurdistan from the late 13th century onwards, who later helped to found the Safavid dynasty of Iran. 4a7 - Aqasi, haji Mirza (‘Abbas Iravani) (c. 1783–1849) Prime minister of Iran under Muhammad Shah Qajar from 1835 to 1848; regarded by Bahá’s as the Antichrist of the Bábí dispensation. 4b - Early in the 19th century, conflicts occurred between Iran and the Herat khanate for herat city. England’s intervention in these wars proved unlucky for Iran. Akhundov was commenting on this. 4c - Rostam is the national hero of Iran from zabulistan (in Persian mythology) and the son of zal and Rudaba. In some ways, the position of Rostam is curiously parallel to that of Surena, the hero of the Carrhae. 4d - These are genuine incantations recited by dervishes and sorcerers in the Near East. 4e - Louis-Philippe I (1773 –1850), king of the French from 1830 to 1848 in what was known as the July Monarchy. he was the last king to rule France, although Napoleon III, styled as an emperor, would serve as its last monarch. 63

SANAN ALIYEv Narrator and MC for the evening DAvID PARRY Lord Hatamkhan koNUL ALIYEvA - Gulchohra
Born in 1987 in Baku, Azerbaijan. konul studied at the gymnasium. During 2004-2008 she studied both the Arabian and Persian languages at Baku State University, where she graduated with a BA and later an MBA in International Business. konul also, takes part in a number of community events and is an education consultant for the Caspian-khazri Society. Founder of the “Buta” Folk Dance Ensemble, her inspiration is traveling and cultural diversity. Lastly, she has had several articles published in newspapers.

Born in 1942, hamilton New zealand. M.A. in English/History: qualified Secondary School teacher. Some acting experience in school productions and also teaching drama as an English teacher. Interests: a voracious reader including history books (especially the hapsburg Empire), 1970 thrillers, contemporary writers especially Paul Auster, tinkling on my old upright piano, listening to Radio 3. Married twice: have twins who are married and a son still single. only connection with the theatre is a grandfather who was in Music hall in England and N.z. and son in N.z. who often treads the boards. 64

gERALDINE BESkIN - Lady Shahrabanu
A bookseller and publisher. Based in London and mother to a daughter and owned by two cats, her life is a busy one. An amateur historian, she enjoys sharing her research with people through biographical talks of writers and artists that interest her. Poetry in English or translation, is a quiet haven and reading a poem last thing at night influences her dreams. Geraldine has a lifelong love of the theatre and is delighted to be making this, her theatrical debut.

ANToNY gIDEoN - Gulamali
Born and bred in Surbiton, he is married with two children. Antony has a BA in philosophy from heythrop College, London; he now tutors special needs children. he has recently become involved with gruntlers as their official photographer.

Gulnar Hasanova - Lady Sharafnisa
Born in Baku, Azerbaijan. Gulnar is fluent in English, Azerbaijani, Turkish and Russian. She holds a BA in Commerce and an MBA from the Azerbaijan State Economic University, Baku, and an MSc in International Employment Relations and human Resources Management from The London School of Economics, London. She currently leads the Recruitment Services Division at The European Azerbaijan Society. gulnar is passionate about the preservation of Azerbaijani culture in all its forms. This is her first experience of the London stage and she is honoured to appear in tonight’s performance. 65

vALENTIN hRIPko - Mr. Shahbaz
Born in Tallinn, Estonia in 1988. he moved to London in early 2005 to find his fame and fortune. Since that time, valentin has started to perform readings of his own poetry in both Russian and English. he recently became a member of gruntlers and aims to perfect his work as a performer.

CoNRAD PETERS - Dervish Mastali Shah
having retired from the corporate world, Conrad has come full circle and is pursuing his drama and professional modelling career for the second time round. over the years he has appeared in various stage productions including Sleeping Beauty, Tom Jones, The Drunkard, Billy Liar and The Bronte’s. Recent short films include Marty Unplugged, William and the Moon and Family Trade. Conrad is further developing his skills by attending selected workshops and using every opportunity to perform. He is a member of Equity and is profiled on Spotlight http://www.spotlight.com/8135-0169-9200.

ILkE TUNA - Monsieur Jordan
Born in 1985 in Ýzmir, Turkey. Believing in the importance of self confidence he achieved a B.Sc. in Mathematics before joining a number of amateur theatricals groups. Recently, he took part in Neil Simon’s “The good Doctor”, performing as “general Brasshilov” and “Piotr Semyonich”. he has been acting and attending workshops since his arrival in London in 2008 and would like to perform further plays. 66


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