Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh

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Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh
Born (1977-02-23) 23 February 1977 (age 44)
OccupationTheatre Director, Actress, writer, consultant, mentor & creative. Active since 1999

Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh was the founder and Artistic Director (CEO) of ZENDEH, a former Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.[1]

Early life[edit]

Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh was born in the northern Iranian city of Tabriz in February 1977. She came to the UK with her parents when she was very young. Her father was an academic, and they settled in Edinburgh, where he was working. Nazli went to James Gillespie's High School.

She began work in 2001 as a trainee director at Leicester Haymarket Theatre and then at the Theatre Workshop Edinburgh. In 2004, she founded the Zendeh Theatre Company – the name means "alive" in Persian.[2]

She quotes her influences on her creative practise to include international theatre, politics of the Middle East, sciences, and stories from the silk routes. These can be seen as a direct influence on her creative directing and productions developed with the Zendeh theatre company.[3][4]


Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh was the Artistic Director of ZENDEH, a theatre company based in the North East of England that was part of Arts Council England's National Portfolio of Organisations.[5] The company created enchanting theatre that combines poetic elements, mythology and explored global political and social perspectives in a most approachable way. Iranian myths and contemporary reference points appeared in many of ZENDEH's shows reflecting the cultural heritage of Artistic director Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh.[6] Although the work itself often rejects cultural representation instead creating a more impressionistic, magical realism, visual and physical style of theatre. ZENDEH often explore hidden histories and modern identities; finding the compelling and epic in ordinary stories and crafting culturally eclectic productions. ZENDEH's and Nazli's direction and artistic practice is collaborative; working with artists and the wider public, combining art forms and using digital technologies to continually find imaginative ways to share stories and find human connections.

Over Nazli's career she has developed a strong leadership role in producing diverse theatre in the UK in particular looking at themes of the Middle East and the lives of women.[7][8]


Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh through the 10+ years as Artistic Director with ZENDEH has developed a unique multi-staged method of creating theatrical productions that is relevant to 21st Century Britain. The ZENDEH method encompasses seven stages that includes, but is not restricted to, blue sky thinking; collaboration in multidisciplinary art forms and working with a wide range of associate artists; emphasis on dramaturgy; and re-approaching joint authorship with participation, engagement and research.

Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh also leads on the Creative Case North,[9] which is a re-imagining of Arts Council England’s approach to diversity and equality, setting out how these areas can and should enrich the arts for artists, audiences and wider society.[10][11]

Personal life[edit]

Nazli is a dual citizen of Iran and of the United Kingdom, daughter of Dr. M. T. Tabatabai-Khatambaksh and Mrs M. Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh. She lives in Edinburgh.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Interview Nazli Tabatabai-Khatambakhsh". Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Arts and Ethnicity - Encompassing internationalism". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  4. ^ "20/05/2014, The Janice Forsyth Show - BBC Radio Scotland". BBC. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Tomlin, Liz (26 February 2015). British Theatre Companies: 1995-2014: Mind the Gap, Kneehigh Theatre, Suspect Culture, Stan's Cafe, Blast Theory, Punchdrunk. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781408177303. Retrieved 23 April 2018 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "NEVL - Home". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  8. ^ "disability arts online". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Creative Case NORTH". Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  10. ^ "disability arts online". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Speakers Announced for Visiting Arts International Producers Breakfast 2015! - Visiting Arts". Retrieved 23 April 2018.

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