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, etc.?
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, Afghanis 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!
The first one-woman show ever! A brilliant young university student from Herat did a fantastic clown show and had us all laughing and crying. Her amazing mother and father joined her onstage for the curtain call. You could see how much they loved their daughter and supported her dreams. All artists should have parents like hers!
Many young people participated.
Some photos from the various other groups.
As you can see, there is such diversity in the look and feel and styles of the various performances. While photos can’t capture much of the feeling, they can give you a glimpse into this colorful scene!