“We welcome your work as an educational theatrical method for our students, especially for our young generation who has been involved in war and conflict.” – Prof. Farooq Faryad, Dean of Fine Arts, Kabul University
Our long-term goal is to introduce culturally responsive, theatre-based educational programs into Afghan schools, especially targeting girls who have few outlets for creative physical expression, and to help revitalize the arts after years of cultural repression.
Bond Street Theatre’s current Theatre for Social Development project partners with Afghan theatre companies to create original work, use art for social improvement, and bring information to rural areas where illiteracy is high and people, especially women, have little access to news and information. The goal is to build the capacity of local theatre organizations to provide educational services on an ongoing basis to their communities.
Bond Street Theatre worked with the Nangarhar Provincial Theatre in Jalalabad in Spring 2012. The all-male Nangarhar team used theatre to address social issues in the troubled border region with Pakistan, but did not include women in the troupe. Bond Street Theatre created an all-female troupe to join the existing male troupe and conducted workshops to create two original performances addressing conflict resolution and women’s rights in the region. The Nangarhar Women’s Troupe is the first women’s theatre troupe in the province.
On that same trip company directors Joanna Sherman and Michael McGuigan held a two week training program with director Tahera Hashemi and her new theatre company, Papyrus Theatre, based in Kabul. The goal was to expand their theatrical vocabulary through intensive training, improve their ability to devise plays that illuminate social issues, and develop their ability to design and administrate programs in their community, especially for women and girls.
We partnered with White Star Company in Kabul in Fall 2011 for the second phase of this project, forming a men’s troupe and a women’s troupe (the first all-female theatre company in Kabul). Both groups created short performances dealing with social issues with the intention to present solutions. Performances were followed by an interactive discussion with audiences in the Boal forum theatre style to discuss the viability of the solutions presented and stimulate further thinking. The ensembles performed at the Women’s Prison in Badam Bagh, ANCOP (the National Police), several safe houses, shelters and organizations for orphans, and for the Afghan Women’s Network.
In the spring of 2011, we partnered with Simorgh Film and Theatre in Herat, Afghanistan for the first leg of the project. BST and Simorgh collaborated on the creation of two shows: one performed by women for women, the other by and for men. Both plays addressed family conflict – a topic that all actors and directors agreed was most critical in the region.
Click here to see highlights from our work with Simorgh Theatre.
Bond Street Theatre returned to Afghanistan in September 2011 to partner with White Star Theatre Company.
After three decades of war, occupation, drought and constant displacement, Afghanistan is starting the long process of recovery. Beginning with the Russian invasion in 1979, followed by a decade of mujahideen-driven civil war, eight years of repressive Taliban rule, and US retaliation after September 11th, and an upsurge of violence in 2006, Afghanistan needs help more than ever.
In the crowded Afghan refugee camps of northern Pakistan, just after the events of September 11, 2001, members of Bond Street Theatre came to bring a little joy to Afghan children and learn more about the conflict. There we met Exile Theatre, a dauntless band of Afghan actors who had formed in exile and dared to present live theatre despite all restrictions. Our groups re-met in Afghanistan the following year as refugees from over 30 years of war began pouring back into the country after the fall of the Taliban.
In 2005, Bond Street Theatre and Exile Theatre of Kabul brought Beyond the Mirror, the ground-breaking first ever US-Afghan theatre collaboration to the USA, created and written by the Bond Street Theatre and Exile Theatre ensembles, and directed by Mahmoud Shah Salimi and Joanna Sherman.
“The first collaboration between an Afghan and an American theatre company, [the play] has a quiet authority, even delicacy, that is truly powerful.”- Margo Jefferson, The New York Times
We work to disseminate effective theatre-based practices that address conflict prevention, reconciliation skills, and innovative approaches to peacebuilding, through a series of workshops and collaborations with Afghan Arts Partners (theatre organizations) and NGO Partners, including outreach programs for children and youth.
2006-2009- The US-Afghan Arts Exchange and Conflict Resolution Project facilitated artistic exchange between Afghan, Indian, and American theatre artists, and enoucrage collaboaration with rural women, street children and other disadvantaged groups.
2007-2008- We worked with Aschiana in Mazar-i-Sharif using theatre techniques to improve education for street-working children and to empower local women. and trained an all-girls theatre group at Mediothek Center in Kunduz.
2007- We e conducted a performance and workshop program in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif, in partnership with Aschiana, forusing on self-confidence, physical expression, and group cooperation.
2005- We completed two residencies at Kabul University, teaching students and preparing a collaborative production Beyond The Mirror with Exile Theatre. The production premiered in Kabul and toured in Japan and the US with glowing response from audiences and media.
2003- we traveled to Afghanistan to collaborate with Exile Theatre, and to bring healing, uplifting work to refugee families that were pouring back into the country. In partnership with Afghanistan-Schulen, we reached 25,000 children in the rural north, focusing especially on girls who were returning to school after four years of Taliban ban on education for girls.
United States Institute for Peace, US Embassy in Kabul, US Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, CEC-Artslink, Theatre Communications Group / International Theatre Institute, The Riverside Church Sharing Fund.