Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kabul Theater Festival

“Hopelessness, despair, and cynicism are some of the most powerful weapons of the oppressor. If we feel there is no point and that we can never win; then there will be weak efforts.” - Kayhan Irani

Here is an antidote to despair we can feel looking in from outside.

These reflections from the seventh Kabul theater festival highlight an often hidden aspect of Afghanistan. The world of creativity, cooperation and drama.

Featuring theater troupes from Kandahar, Ghazni, Khost, Heart, Bamiyam and Tajikistan the performances were inspiring and diverse.

So is the post below...

Kabul goes to my head

"The last four days at the Kabul Theater Festival has been heady, thrilling, hopeful, and heartful. I was overjoyed to meet most of the theater artists that I worked with last year. They were presenting their work at the festival (one of them won best scenery and costumes!) and they all looked radiant and full of life. Moreover, I met so many new, creative people working in MANY different provinces of Afghanistan and in different forms of theater.

I was so happy to see all the forms that these shows took. People are really getting creative, getting inventive, and are taking the initiative to make art however they can.

We met groups who have faced great danger making their art, people new to theater, others who are well established, some on the cutting edge, and folks who are just joining in for the sake of it – maybe hearing about it for the first time. This is exactly the type of vitality and diversity you want to see in any field.

In general (and not just with theater folks) there is so much love, energy, brilliance, and hope I feel when talking to Afghanis. Just the opposite of what the mainstream media shows us. I suppose that outside forces need people to believe things are drab and hopeless to get support for unending war. Imagine if we heard about theater festivals, language schools, women judges, youth voices, inter-ethnic solidarity projects, music and dance forms.

Hopelessness, despair, and cynicism are some of the most powerful weapons of the oppressor. If we feel there is no point and that we can never win; then there will be weak efforts.

The truth is, Afghans are creating their futures with vision and dedication. I hope that reading this blog will allow you to reignite your hope for the people of Afghanistan and believe in their brilliance and power.

Without further ado … proof that hope springs eternal – through theater!"

Kayhan Irani is an artivist and an Emmy award winning writer. She believes in the liberatory power of the arts to deepen people’s engagement with social issues and transform society. She is a writer, director, performer, and facilitator.

Her acclaimed one-woman show, “We’ve Come Undone”, which tells the stories of immigrant women post 9/11, has toured nationally and internationally. In 2007 she was awarded a certificate of recognition by Mayor Michael Bloomberg for her arts work in immigrant communities.

To see more festival images visit Thru Afghan Eyes blog.

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Afghanistan 101 is a blog of the American Friends Service Committee
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