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Austria: Play explores Táhirih’s connection with pioneer of women’s movement

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

two women in the middle of a play
A play staged by the Bahá’ís of Austria explores the connection between Táhirih, a Bahá’í heroine, and Marianne Hainisch, founder of Austria’s women’s movement.

VIENNA — What is the connection between Táhirih—a Bahá’í heroine of women’s emancipation in the nineteenth century—and Marianne Hainisch, founder of Austria’s women’s movement?

This is the subject of exploration in a play titled “Der Siegelring!” which was staged recently at the National Centre of the Bahá’ís of Austria as part of a nationwide open house initiative of the Ministry of Art and Culture to promote public discussion on a range of national issues.

Hainisch, who is recognized as a pioneer of Austria’s women’s movement, advocated for equal access to higher education and established the first high schools for girls in that country.

two images of a cream building
Views of the Austrian Bahá’í National Centre, where a play about Táhirih was staged as part of the Ministry of Art and Culture’s nationwide open house initiative.

In an interview with Martha Root—a notable early Bahá’í—Hainisch stated: “I was a young girl, only seventeen years old when I heard of the martyrdom of Táhirih, and I said, ‘I shall try to do for the girls of Austria what Táhirih tried to do and gave her life to…’”

The play was authored by Isma Forghani in 2019 in honor of the bicentenary of the birth of the Báb. “The story follows a conversation between prominent Europeans of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who had found inspiration in Táhirih’s life as a champion of the equality of women and men,” says Mrs. Forghani.

one image of a group of people on stage, the other image of a large gathering of people sitting down watching someone talk
The play was performed at the Bahá’í National Centre as part of the Bahá’ís of Austria’s efforts to contribute to the discourse on the equality of women and men.

Nicole Fendesack directed the latest production of the play, which has been performed on many occasions over the past three years. “Through the play,” she says, “we encounter exceptional historical women who have not only influenced the past and the present through their lives and deeds, but who also have so much to say for future generations.”

Corinne Farid, a member of the Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly of Austria, explains that the play aims to contribute to the discourse on the equality of women and men.

“This play, in its essence, is an exploration of the Bahá’í principle of the oneness of humanity and the elimination of all forms of prejudices,” she says.

Members of the audience continued their exploration of these themes at an exhibit about the efforts of the Bahá’ís of Austria aimed at social progress, which highlighted insights from Bahá’í community-building efforts in neighborhoods throughout that country.

multiple people standing around some posters and talking
An exhibit at the Bahá’í National Centre about Bahá’í community-building activities held during the open house event.

two images of women, one of an older lady posing for the camera in an old photo, and the other of two women speaking
Left: A dramatization of Marianne Hanisch reading a poem of Táhirih. Right: A photo of Marianne Hainisch circa 1905 at the Vienna City Library. (Credit: Vienna City Library, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

two images of the play occurring
Past performances of the play at Austrian Bahá’í National Centre (left) and the Ingeborg Bachmann Dome at the center of Klagenfurt.

Originally published on the Baha'i World News Service



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