Leila Ghaznavi is a puppeteer of American-Iranian descent with an MFA in acting from the California Institute of the Arts.
Her background is unusually multicultural and greatly influences her work: her father immigrated to the US from Iran at 19, his only possessions fifty dollars and a prayer rug; her mother is a Daughter of the American Revolution.
As a performer Ghaznavi has a wide range, with experience in diverse methods of acting: classical acting, clown, film acting, mask work, puppetry, and aerial acrobatics; as a playwright Ghaznavi weaves together the disparate range of her theatrical studies and her unique heritage in order to further her artistic goals. Ghaznavi has created works on a variety of topics, ranging from the discrimination of homosexuals in the Middle East to mothers of the “Disappeared” in the Argentinian Dirty War.
Ghaznavi’s piece, Silken Veils, premiered in the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was nominated for the prestigious Fringe First Award for best new work. Ghaznavi’s works have also been performed in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Chicago and Hollywood Fringe Festivals, as well as in Bali, Indonesia, and Kristiansand, Norway.
Ghaznavi believes that art cannot be limited to one acting or storytelling method, and that the process of synthesizing artistic traditions is important in the creation of new methods of artistic expression. Moreover, she is committed to the belief that artists must challenge social conventions of what is sacred and taboo.