Thursday, April 19, 2012

Deep Reserves of Courage: Jalalabad Update 6

Because of the stigma against theater, and now women participating in it, from the start we have had lots of conversations about what exactly the Bond Street Theater program is about, whether or not they are actually required to perform in public and their request to never be photographed or recorded at any time. We have had so many conversations about the photography! Apparently, a group of them had a bad experience with someone from the US Embassy posting their photos from another workshop online and it causing a real scandal in the schools and in their families. And so we have honored to not photograph them, or if so, only when they are covered or from the back. Although it’s unfortunate, I respect their request and understand the circumstances under which they are working. I think every day that they show up again demonstrates their deep reserve of courage.

Girls Group with Poems, blurred

We also had a close call yesterday when of the six girls who finally volunteered to work on the actual play, four of them pulled out! Apparently, there was a lot of rumors going about in their neighborhood about what this work entailed.  Everyone was thinking Bollywood. Luckily, we talked with the families, and today the girls returned with full approval and full energy.  We had a lively discussion in trying to arrive at the theme of their play. They are very eager to work on women’s ability to choose their own profession. So we broke down the problem, trying to arrive at the root causes, and ended up talking for about 2 hours! Tomorrow, we’ll hold the ceremony for all the girls who completed the training. I can’t believe how fast it’s going.

Girl's Session in the Afternoon

The men’s group is also in the process of selecting their topic for their play. They are such a great group as well—very energetic and talkative! Yesterday, we did a wonderful exercise of demonstrating a social issue using a fable or folkloric tale. I worked with a group illustrating corruption (which is rampant here) using the turtle and hare story. Another group illustrated the same topic using another animal scenario, with a sheep sacrificing its lamb to a tiger in order to continue to live on the field. It made me think of Toni Morrison's Beloved, and how, no matter the culture, when faced with oppression, people are forced to resort to the most heart-tearing sacrifices. It was very compelling.

Men's Group Scene on Drig Addiction 

Well, now it’s early evening and we will head back to the hotel.

Lots of love from this corner, and hope all is well in yours!


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