Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mediothek Theatre Group of Kunduz

Today, we arrived in Kunduz. We got here in a prop plane! 10 seats-- we almost had more luggage than the plane. They had to weigh the gear and each passenger to see if we were too heavy to fly—but we made it and we have arrived! The flight was 45 minutes over ravenous mountains that twisted like rivers and tributaries of mud and sand.... we landed at the airport: a small building and landing strip that was surrounded by scrap metal, rusting planes and pieces of army tanks… sort of how I imagine the surface of the moon. The city does not have domestic flights yet, like some of the other major cities to the north. Kunduz is a small city, with no buildings above two stories, surrounded by farms and green landscape. There are many children here, at play and also at work—lugging wheelbarrows, stacking bricks, and working the fields.

We are staying with Mediothek, an NGO that sponsors the girl’s theatre company. Mediothek (Media Center) of Afghanistan publishes Kunduz's only magazine, once a month, with an insert made by the teenagers of the theatre group who design the spread and do the reporting. The Mediothek compound, located in the center of town, is also a community center. The NGO offers many cultural programs like the "Magic Box," a creative play and performance program for children, as well as an active youth program that promotes journalism, film making, and theatre as a way to engage youth (boys and girls together) to become active in their community. The artistic programs also develop creativity, presentation and leadership skills.

We met the group today. They call themselves Mediothek Theatre Group, although they are considering a more descriptive name. They now have a few boys in the group, but the group is still primarily young women, ages 14-18 years old, directed by Bibimah, a lead actress in the group. The group was founded in 2004 by an enterprising young woman, Naseeba Holgar, who initiated the idea quite on her own and is now studying Law at Balkh University. Bibimah is heading to university next year. The group comes together for projects, but has a hard time meeting regularly since there are few performance opportunities for theatre groups in Kunduz. The annual Kabul Theatre Festival and a few Mediothek conferences provide the main outlet for their work.

We also shared our portfolio—it is always a great idea to bring tons of pictures to share as an introduction... now on to the fun (and tough) part of creating something together. We start workshops tomorrow... and continue through the next two weeks!

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