Mittwoch, 30. Dezember 2015

Into 2016: change makers

2015 seems to end with dull echoes on the next months to come: battles in Helmand with the spectre of a '2nd Kunduz', the young generation continuing to leave the country. But whoever continues to go and spend time in Kabul and in Afghanistan's provinces will be able to witness work of those parts of the society though who believe in change and are working hard to improve living conditions and keep hope afloat. My favorite this year in this context is the 2nd annual Students' theater festival (from nov. 8th to 11th 2015) eager and pragmatic in spirit to win back an audience after the murderous attack on a theater performance in Esteqlal lycée last december. Here are some pictures I took during this year's festival, including some rehearsals that students partly perform in private rooms due to the scarcety of official rehearsal rooms. The Festival, without any exaggeration, can be seen as a means by youths and academics who had orgainzed it, to try and keep a young generation in the country rather than to have them migrating abroad due to a lack of security and a deep economic crisis. The Festival was in fact the first event in which actors would appear publically on stage again as a sign to fight terrorism and let arts and cultural indentity revive. Just about a year ago, a suicide bomber had exploded himself during a running theater performance at Esteqlal Lycée, Kabul, killing one person and wounding many. For this year's Students's Festival, security precautions were taken, with Theater students and staff strict and searching spectators for their own security. With an audience of some 350 mostly young people daily on all four days, many females came to see the plays. It is to say that acting on stage for women in Afghanistan remains diffictult. Women speaking out loud in public are considered a taboo in Afghanistan's male-dominated society. They face with restrictions in their theater roles (a female addict cannot play out her role to the full degree without possible consequences) and professional careers. Laughing out loud in public is considered unusual and offensive to many a traditional Afghan man. Kabul's Faculty of Fine Arts, who hosted the Student's Theater Festival - on the contrary - took an open approach again this year, challenging the conservative fringe of society, even though the person in the picture above, playing an attractive US-female somewhere in Afghanistan, is a male Student and actor. See also my coverage here.

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