Wednesday 22 April 2009

Afghan season at The Tricycle

London’s Tricycle Theatre has organised what must be one of the most comprehensive and challenging arts festivals ever mounted on the subject of Afghanistan. Between now and 14 June, the theatre will be the venue for The Great Game, a series of plays, films, discussions and exhibitions that the organisers hope will shed some light on events in that country. “Afghanistan is likely to be the most important focus of British European and American foreign policy for the rest of this decade and for many years to come.
Through these plays, exhibitions and films it is hoped that audiences will more fully understand how this policy has evolved; and through debate and discussion lessons from the past can be used to better inform action for the future.”

The plays are all short and can be seen in groups of four at a time. Part 1 groups four plays under the general title ‘Invasions and Independence 1842-1930’. It includes Bugles at the Gates of Jalalabad, by Stephen Jeffreys, which is set in January 1842 during the British Army’s retreat from Kabul, as well as Durand’s Line (written by Ron Hutchinson), set during the time of Amir Abdul Rahman, Campaign (by Amit Gupta) and Now is the Time by Joy Wilkinson.
Part 2, grouped as ‘Communism, The Mujahideen and the Taliban 1979-1996 includes David Edgar’s Black Tulips, set in 1987 amongst Russian conscripts, Blood and Gifts by JT Rogers, Miniskirts of Kabul by David Greig and The Lion of Kabul by Colin Teevan.
The final four plays, grouped as ‘Enduring Freedom 1996-2009’, include Honey by Ben Ockrent, The Night is Darkest Before the Dawn by Abi Morgan, On the Side of the Angels by Richard Bean and Canopy of Stars by Simon Stephens, set in a British Army bunker close to the Kajaki Dam.
Films on show at the Tricycle include favourites such as Siddiq Barmak’s Osama and Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Kandahar, along with other less well-known films including Hana Makhmalbaf’s Buddha Collapsed out of Shame and Kabuli Kid, directed by Barmak Akram. Documentaries include the wonderful Afghan Star, Beauty Academy of Kabul, and View from a Grain of Sand.
There are also wonderful exhibitions on Istalif Ceramics, Contemporary Afghan Photography and Afghan Artists in Britain, as well as talks by the BBC’s David Loyn, Christina Lamb of the Sunday Times and Masood Khalil. The Tricycle should be congratulated for putting together such an impressive cultural event. More information from