Sahand Sahebdivani is the Iranian founder and the face of Mezrab. Starting 2003 Sahand and his family invited for years guests over into their living room to listen to his parents: his father, Ali, was able to tell heroic stories and his mother, Parwin, enchanted the guests with her voice when she sang Iranian songs. Sahand translated his father’s stories into Dutch or English for those who did not understand Farsi and he would play instruments to accompany his mother while she sang. As time went by, increasing numbers of people wanted to enjoy the living room activities at the Sahebdivani house. In order to fit the growing crowd, Sahand rented a little tea house in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam – this was the first Mezrab. Over time, Mezrab was forced to relocate to increasingly larger venues in order to accommodate the evergrowing volumes of people.
At the beginning of 2015, Mezrab moved to its current venue in the “Pakhuis Wilhelmina”, which can accommodate up to 300 people. This was partially made possible by a successful crowdfunding (with more than 400 funders) that was initiated to afford the relocation to this bigger venue.
Mezrab received a new organizational structure and changed into a venue that suited the growing audience. The modern Mezrab is run by team of ten people from all over the world. Together they program more than 300 events every year. Mezrab is probably the most active storytelling loacation in Europe with yearly around 200 storytelling events. The storytelling program is complemented by a very specific music program made up of elements such as jazz, world music and experimental music – mostly the music is danceable.
Often, on many evenings, the mixture of different styles is tried – then the elements are: storytelling, music, comedy, dance, acrobatics … (even opera, but not too often).