Iran arrests two over theatre production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream

Social media clip showed female actors dancing with men as part of the theatre production's trailer

A detail of the newly discovered portrait of William Shakespeare, presented by the Shakespeare Birthplace trust, is seen in central London, Monday March 9, 2009. The portrait, believed to be almost the only authentic image of the writer made from life, has belonged to one family for centuries but was not recognized as a portrait of Shakespeare until recently. There are very few likenesses of Shakespeare, who died in 1616.   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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The Bard is barred for one theatre group in Iran.

Authorities have arrested two artists over a production of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream after a promotional video posted on social media showed female actors dancing with male performers.

Iran's judiciary ordered the detention of the play's director, Maryam Kazemi, and the manager of the theatre that hosted it, Saeed Assadi, cultural official Shahram Karami told the official IRNA news agency.

Mr Karami said both were taken into custody on Sunday evening, after the broadcast of a video trailer about the work.

He said it had caused a "misunderstanding," but did not elaborate, adding that a court had accepted to release the two on some $24,000 bail each.


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A clip on social media showed female actors dancing with men as part of the trailer, an illegal act under the Islamic Republic's rules that forbid gender mixing and women dancing in public.

The play was on stage for seven nights before the arrests. The comic fantasy tracks the intertwined fates of four lovers and is one of Shakespeare's most popular plays, put on by theatre groups around the world.

Police forces and hardliners who dominate Iran's judiciary reject western culture in Iran.

In July, Iran detained Maedeh Hojabri, a teenage girl who posted dance videos online.

In 2014 authorities sentenced six young men and women to suspended prison terms after they appeared in a video dancing to Pharrell Williams' song "Happy."