Drama and cinema in contemporary Iran can be said to have some roots in older, more traditional forms of similar cultural activities. The first type of dramatic expression, for example, was probably connected to the veneration by ancient Iranians of the sun-god Mithra, when worshipers constructed a public stage and wore masks to perform certain religious rituals. We also know that after Alexander’s invasion of Iran, performances of Greek plays were held there well into Parthian times. As discussed in an earlier chapter, dramatized presentations of the epic stories and legends of ancient Iran were performed by bards ( gosân s) and storytellers ( naqqâl s) in Parthian, Sasanid, and early Islamic times, and later on the Shi‘ite passion-play ( ta‘ziyeh ) became a well-established form of dramatic presentation. The Turks and Mongols also brought some customs of popular drama and public performances such as shadow-puppet plays to Iran. Iranian rulers often patronized jesters, entertainers, and other performers for the amusement of the court elites. For ordinary people, the bazaars and public squares were places where jugglers, magicians, comedians, storytellers, and entertainers offered their dramatic performances to the public. In addition to ta‘ziyeh and naqqâli , traditional forms of dramatic performance include those known as ruhowzi or siâh-bâzi, pardeh-dâri, and khaymeh-shab-bâzi . Ruhowzi is a comic type of folk drama similar to commedia dell‘arte but with rapid verbal rather than physical humor. It is often performed at weddings and at teahouses. It is called ruhowzi or “over the pool” because it is typically performed on a board placed over the pool commonly found in the yard of a Persian home. Ruhowzi usually involves several players engaging in comic dance, music, and song. The dialogue is colloquial and fi lled with satirical impersonations of local people and events. The play often involves participation by, or exchanges with, the spectators. Pardeh-dâri is performed by a single narrator who chants a narrative, using a screen with pictures as a prop to illustrate the story he is telling. This is somewhat similar to naqqâli except that the subjects of the story are usually of a religious nature. Khaymeh-shab-bâzi is basically puppet theater, performed with glove dolls or marionettes.