Reza Abdoh: Theatre Visionary. 2015. USA. Directed by Adam Soch. 99 min.
Created by his longtime video collaborator and archivist Adam Soch, this documentary builds a vivid portrait of Reza Abdoh through archival footage and recent interviews. Members of the Dar a Luz theater company chronicle the making of successive productions in Los Angeles, New York, and abroad, detailing Abdoh’s method of drawing on actors as much as his own experiences to develop the visceral characters and physicality of his productions, to simultaneously exacting and empowering results. The film also features the artist’s family, evoking a childhood deeply altered by the history of Abdoh’s native Iran and an adult creative life bearing the scars of the tumultuous 1980s, the decade of Reaganism, the end of the Cold War, and the AIDS epidemic that would eventually take his life. Queer, foreign-born, and non-white—the ultimate outsider—Abdoh propelled himself into an essential prophet and poet for contemporary America in all its complexity. As he reflected in a 1994 interview, “I’m just an addict for American culture, and I’m obsessive about it, and it makes me angry. There is so much food for thought and observation in American culture…. I find it very powerful culture, and I like to critique it, and, in a sense, see where it’s heading and where it can go.”