| Quick Links
CultureWhite Star Theater Performs at Afghans4Tomorrow School
by Elyas Barikzay
On November 1, 2011 the newly formed White Star Theater Company came to Afghans4Tomorrow School to present two plays under the Cultural section of A4T. These plays were written and created by the actors in White Star Theater Company in collaboration with Kabul University and under the guidance of a U.S. based theater company Bond Street Theater. White Star Theater has two groups: a men's group and a women's group. Each group presented a show about common problems faced in Afghanistan and offered some solutions. After the shows, the young people in the audience had a chance to enter into a dialogue with the actors and with each other about alternative solutions to these problems. Some students were given the chance to come on stage and confront oppressor characters directly, talking to them and trying to show a possible way of dealing with such an oppressor. Read more and see photos of our students with the actors in the show HERE!
The women’s show “Rights Are Not Given; They Are Taken” is about an illiterate woman whose husband prevents her from learning to read, and her educated friend who faces the situation of getting a job in a man’s domain (pictured below). The story shows how the two women address their problems with the message that in unity the women will find strength and support to make changes.
The men’s show "Not Just a Banana" is about taking responsibility and is both comic and pointed. A boy takes his teacher’s lesson to heart that everyone must be responsible for his own proper conduct. The boy's dilemma is finding the proper place to dispose of a banana peel, a journey that takes him from the school to the Police to the Municipality to the Justice Department to the Mullah who finally gives him advice. During the boy’s journey, we witness some of the problems at each level of Afghan government.
The boys and girls in the audience participated equally and with great enthusiasm. They could identify injustice and many had smart, funny, clever solutions to the problems presented in the dramas.
For 5 weeks, Bond Street Theater ran workshops and skill building classes for Kabul University theater students interested in using theater as a way to address common problems in Afghan society. The group was trained in the `Theater for Social Development Program` techniques and offered support and guidance on how this type of theater might work in Afghan society. This was the group's 7th performance and they plan to expand their work in Afghanistan. "They are training other theater groups in Herat, Jalalabad, Bamyan, and Kandahar", according to the Afghan Cultural House.
The launching of this performance was made by A4T Board member Dr. Wahid Omar for the cultural section of A4T. He had Elyas Barikzay, A4T Country Director, contact Kayhan Irani, leader of this theater group, to arrange for this performance at our A4T School. The program began with A4T School principal, Laila, welcoming everyone to the show. The students greatly enjoyed the event, cheering and clapping after each performance. A big thank you goes to Dr. Wahid Omar, Laila and White Star Theater Company. Mostly we appreciate Miss Kayhan Irani for this marvelous show and wish to have same performances at A4T in the future.
Culture Section mission:
A4T`s mission is to help the people of Afghanistan live in peace and prosperity by developing educational, agricultural, health and cultural programs that will sustain viable communities, improve their standard of living and foster peace and security.
Through our significant experience working in Afghanistan the past 11 years we know that development work is successful when supported by communities that express their local customs and cultural traditions.
We strongly believe in promoting peace and security through non-conventional educational methods, such as studying and sharing Afghanistan`s vibrant culture.
This goal is being launched through our new project described below.
In the near future we also will share photos of paintings by local Afghan artists, decorative arts, such as embroidered Afghan crafts and clothing, and poetry by our A4T students as part of our Cultural stream on our website.
Storytellers Without Borders
Mission Statement: Storytellers Without Borders (SWB) is a project which aims to share cultural information through storytelling and art about Afghanistan and the United States with special focus on building peace and understanding. Its primary focus is to study and preserve the Afghan culture through projects serving as a platform to disseminate knowledge, research, and culture.
-To identify the most compelling oral traditions representative of the Afghan and US Diaspora related to peace and to share them with communities in Afghanistan
-To promote youth and women`s rights through their own medium of expression, including the art of storytelling and other art medium. We consider all forms of art as storytelling events and as cultural ambassadors for Afghanistan.
-To facilitate exchange of stories and arts between schools, universities, and communities between the US and Afghanistan.
-To share great American stories with Afghan local shuras or jergas and other traditional medium in order to promote understanding, peace, and security.
-To network the art of story telling by forming a community of story tellers with the aim of curing mental illness and promoting peace in Afghanistan.
-To collect and archive Afghan folklore for research purposes, and to gather qualitative data in order to have a better understanding of the Afghan society.
-To revive and promote oral literature in schools and universities' curriculum with the aim to educate civic responsibilities, democracy, peace and research.
Research scholarships for university students will foster understanding of Afghanistan and the behavior of its people for Afghans and non-Afghans alike.
-To organize story telling festivals in Kabul where university faculty members from the Department of Dari and Pashto will identify elements of oral traditions such as stories, proverbs, riddles, poetry, and annual traditions such as new year, Eid, and others favorable to peace, justice, and security. Stories will be generated from people of all facets of life and occupations (inspired by the traditional AND contemporary stories of farmers and herders, midwives and weavers, cooks, cleaners, and policemen and water bearers, etc.)
In addition, American stories about peace and justice will also be collected, with the help of folklorists in the US.
See a slide show of paintings by Elyas Barikzay, made during his spare time in early 2011 while working for Afghans4Tomorrow as Finance Director. (Since late July, Elyas has been the A4T Country Director.) Click above to view larger images.