Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kandahar Theatre Update 2: Safe Haven

Dear all, 
Things have been a bit dicey lately.  Our Afghan partner called us at 5:30am this morning to tell us to pack our bags and we were to evacuate Jalalabad for a few days. He would come by and take us to stay to his house in a small village outside the city.  We hadn’t heard a thing about this nasty film (and it is really awful – I am appalled even as an artist) so it was all a shock.  Now we are on lockdown at the hotel.  We decided it would be more dangerous to get in a car and drive to the village and endanger his family.  We are such a liability!  We put everyone in danger.
So the program is on hold for today and especially tomorrow, Friday – the usual day of prayer and protest.  
To put our friends at home at ease, I do think our hotel is a safe haven. We are staying in our rooms with meals delivered up from the kitchen.  There are a bevy of guards at the front gate and they have added more.  Then there is a long driveway (through a very nice garden) up to the front of the building.  They frisked our male escort on his way in, and stopped even the women… so they are really being careful.  
One of our partners came over to deliver burqas for me and Monireh, and some additional details to add to Michael’s Afghan attire.  Meanwhile the Afghans have been telling people (and only few people know we are here) that we are from Australia.  I usually say Canada, but whatever.
The trainings were really going well – we were all very pleased!  It’s a shame to make this break in the process right now.  We had just started discussions on what topics the shows should address.  The Kandahari group is really learning a lot.  Besides the obviously new stuff – our crazy warm-ups, the stilts, funny routines, etc. – many of the acting techniques are very new… even the mime.  They had some image theatre from Kayhan, but we are dealing with purely actors’ training first, then we will move into the conflict resolution work as we develop the play.  So we are focusing on body language, precision of gesture, focus,… all detail work that they haven’t been exposed to.
That’s the news from the front….  We will let you know how things develop.  I am a bit concerned about tomorrow, but we will, as ever, keep our heads down.  (Under my burqa, I have to… or I’ll trip).

Cheers –
Joanna, Michael, and Monireh

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