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Assurbanipal Babilla

Assurbanipal Babilla (1944–2011) was born in Tehran. He was one of three resident directors with the famed Drama Workshop of Tehran from 1973 to 1978, where he staged several of his own plays. The fundamentalist revolution of 1979 forced Mr. Babilla to flee his native country. He emigrated to the United States, briefly teaching at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles before moving to New York City. He taught acting at New York University and Bard College, and founded the theater troupe Purgatorio Ink. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Babilla led Purgatorio Ink in a series of critically acclaimed avant-garde productions Off-Off Broadway, at landmark venues such as La MaMa E.T.C., P.S. 122, St. Marks Church, the Kitchen and others. On tour, Mr. Babilla brought his work to Poland, the Czech Republic, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and Baltimore. He conducted several popular acting workshops in the 1990s out of Purgatorio Ink's studio on Grand Street in SoHo, nurturing a new generation of experimental-theater artists. His many plays include Three Angels Dancing on a Needle; Eating the Audience: A Presbyterian Tragedy; The True Story of a Woman Born in Iran and Raised to Heaven in Manhattan; Slam, Bang & Poof!, The Rise and Fall of H.M. Dick; Suddenly Something Recklessly Gay, or Cirque de Ca-Ca; All About Jeez, or the Sacred Squirt; The Sisters Karamazov; Homo Americanus; Othello and the Circumcisèd Turk; Something Something Über Alles; and Assyrian Monkey Fantasy. As a director, he also staged works by Jean Genet, August Strindberg, Yukio Mishima, and Jean-Claude van Itallie. In addition to his career in the theater, Mr. Babilla was a lifelong painter and sculptor, using found materials and vibrant compositional techniques. He also wrote short stories and translated the work of other Iranian authors. In 2005, he was the recipient of a Hellman-Hammett grant.

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