TDM Instructor Spotlight: Tara Ahmadinejad

January 21, 2021
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This week's TDM Instructor Spotlight features Tara Ahmadinejad! Tara is a director – and sometimes a writer – who will be directing the TDM Spring 2021 Production and co-teaching a class entitled New Species: A Hybrid Studio with Phillip Howze.

A Middle Eastern woman with light skin and dark hair, wearing glasses and a red shirt, smiling.

What excites you about working in TDM?

Right now is such a vital time for the exploration of the unknown in theater. The same old isn't even possible right now. And to a certain extent all the work being made now is experimental. I'm so thrilled to be working with the students at TDM to really try to kick up some dirt and make some real discoveries. The space that Phillip and I aim to foster with the students, is one where their curiosity and passion can lead us to places we can't predict. TDM offers the perfect setting for this type of risk-taking and vulnerability.

What do you do as an artist? What’s an upcoming project you have that you’re excited about?

I'm primarily a director, but I also write (and am currently performing in a show, but that is something I almost never do). I am part of a live arts collective called Piehole, and we investigate presence and liveness in different forms. We investigate collective authorship, and have created works in theater, galleries, and in digital spaces such as XR and VR (in collaboration with the LA-based company Tender Claws). Liveness, presence and audience agency are central formal considerations in all of our work as a collective. Humor is also an essential tool in the toolbox.

I'm currently in the middle of a run of a show I wrote and am co-directing and performing called Disclaimer. It's an alleged cooking class that's really an anti-war-with-Iran propaganda event that gets taken over by an Agatha Christie-type murder mystery. It's lightly interactive, and it's a very personal piece for me. It draws from my fear of war, longing for reunion with my family in Iran, and frustrations around issues of representation. And it's funny...until it's not.

What are some underlying themes in your artistic work?

I think a lot about the event of what's happening in the room in any given project -- why are we gathering for this, how, etc. This is part of how I find my way in to the question of presence. Certainly in my writing I'm constantly dealing with issues of representation -- I find the tools of theater are so useful for upending audience expectations, drawing attention to our habits of viewership, our habits in meaning-making -- and the serious consequences of these habits.

Learn more about Tara’s work here: