Afghan Theatre Company Coming to Theatre Project Nov. 3-13

SOURCE: Theatre Project
Two performance companies--one from Afghanistan and the other from New York City--promote the value of the theatre arts in post-conflict recovery.
Theatre Project begins its subscription series with "Beyond the Mirror" on Nov. 3. The show is a collaboration between an Afghan Theatre Company (Exile Theatre from Kabul) and an American Theatre Company (NYC's Bond Street Theatre). Theatre Project will be one of only two US venues for the show.

"Beyond the Mirror" uses personal stories to give a humanistic portrayal of the past 20 years in Afghanistan, a time of war and oppression. Through puppetry, dance, shadow theatre, music, film and multi-media, the show honors the soul of a nation and proves the resilience of the human spirit. It reaches beyond a reflection of the past and shows a new Afghanistan finding its way and making choices for a positive future.

“Our work together on 'Beyond the Mirror' has been a beautiful example of cooperation across cultures,” says Exile Theatre Director Mahmoud Salimi in a prepared statement to the press. “Both groups have brought their own vision and talents to the creative process, and the result is unlike anything seen in Afghanistan before.”

"Beyond the Mirror" opened the 2nd Afghan Theatre Festival on Aug. 27 at the Dramatic Arts Center of Kabul University. The first US-Afghan collaboration in Afghan history emanated from years of collaboration between the two groups. The two companies’ last production won Best Play at the 1st Afghan National Theatre Festival last year. The Festival jury called the show “a unique, thoughtful, pictorial production with a completely new style in the history of Afghanistan’s theatre.” Says Bond Street Theatre Director Joanna Sherman, “For the last four years, we have been introducing new visions of theatre and new techniques to Afghan artists and audiences.” The production features live music by rebob master Quraisha, and a performance by former child film star Anisa Wahab.

Bond Street Theatre, founded in 1976, is a not-for-profit organization and winner of a prestigious MacArthur Award. The company has performed for a myriad of populations worldwide. They last appeared at Theatre Project in the award-winning "Romeo & Juliet," created in collaboration with Bulgaria’s Theatre Tsvete. The company is dedicated to creating theater in areas of conflict. Exile Theatre, founded in 2000 in Peshawar, Pakistan, has created many original productions since their inception, working in verbal and non-verbal styles. The two groups first met in Peshawar in 2002 while Bond Street Theatre was performing for Afghan refugees. Since then, their efforts have reached over 25,000 children and adults in Kabul and rural villages in northern Afghanistan. Both groups are dedicated to using performance as a way to address current social and civic themes.

"Beyond the Mirror" will be presented in Baltimore from November 3-13 and at Theatre for the New City in New York from November 17-December 4. The two companies will also present video lectures and symposia to promote the value of the theatre arts in post-conflict recovery.

Theatre Project, at 45 West Preston Street just down the street from the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, calls itself Baltimore’s year-round “fringe festival.” It's now in its 34th year of presenting cutting-edge performing arts in a professional yet laid-back and intimate atmosphere, showcasing work by established and emerging artists from the region, the nation, and the world. Many engagements include discussions with the artists, workshops, or other outreach activities. Founded by Philip Arnoult, Theatre Project is now under the direction of Anne Cantler Fulwiler.

Showtimes for "Beyond the Mirror" are Thurs.-Sat. at 8 and Sun. at 3. Tickets are $16 general admission and $11 seniors/students. Call the Box Office 410-752-8558 or visit theatreproject.org.

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This story was published on November 1, 2005.