Iran arrests theatre duo over Shakespeare trailer

Prominent director Maryam Kazemi, venue manager Saeed Asadi detained over trailer for production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" featuring men, women dancing together.

TEHRAN - Two leading theatre figures in Iran were arrested over a trailer for a production of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" featuring men and women dancing together, a government official said Monday.

Prominent director Maryam Kazemi and venue manager Saeed Asadi were detained on Sunday on the orders of the judiciary, said Shahram Karami of the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, according to the semi-official news agency ISNA.

Culture Minister Abbas Salehi later intervened to secure their release, according to state news agency IRNA, sparing them the bail of three billion rial (roughly $23,000 at the current unofficial rate) each, which had initially been demanded.

Karami said the pair had been arrested due to the "type of music played" and the actors' "movements" in the trailer, which was widely shared on social media.

Men and women are banned from dancing together in Iran.

"The persistence of the culture minister helped the media and culture court to sign Saeed Asadi and Maryam Kazemi's release," Karami told IRNA.

The play had already been showing for seven nights at City Theatre, one of Tehran's most famous venues, and only had one night left to run when the pair were arrested.

"The issue was with the trailer they released and not the play's content," Karami added.