Today is Friday, the traditional day of rest. Families spend time together, friends meet, people go out. Today is the end of my second week in Kabul and the end of my first week training the brilliant young actors. Today I also rested, met friends, and ran errands.
I feel like I’ve been here for a much longer and a much shorter time. What I miss is really being able to walk anywhere I want. I love walking and I love seeing a place by walking through little known streets, byways, and alleys. If I were fluent in Dari I think I would be more brave about walking freely. But I wouldn’t know if someone was telling me to watch out, telling me that the road was closed, saying hello, or otherwise. So I spent some time doing errands with the group and seeing the city by car. Occassionally getting out to take photos where I could. Here are some scenes from the street and from the car.
In Kabul, you exchange your dollars into Afghanis (or Afs) from guys on the street. You drive up, or walk up and they tell you the local rate and give you cash on the spot. They also sell phone cards and other stuff.
Here’s our money exchange from the car window.
Here’s a poor donkey being loaded up with giant sacks of fire wood. See how those men are straining but the little creature just takes the load.
Out the window, life goes on.
I took this photo from the street … then got into a car!
This young man works a kiosk in front of Kabul University. We bought some phone cards from him.
Inside the gates of the university, we work for 6 days a week training a newly formed theater group in physical theater and the theories and practice of theater for social change. The young people have had very little interaction with theater but they all have a passion for it. One young man was forced to study aeronautics by his parents but left and joined the theater department!
Our students are eager to learn, showing up early every day and staying late. They are working hard, pushing themselves and trying to incorporate a lot of information in a short period of time.
This first week was all about building an ensemble. Exercises to build their relationships, trust, listening to each other, leadership, and having fun together. The women are actively participating and taking risks, though I sometimes get impatient with their shyness.
I have to understand that they aren’t acting this way becuase they are trying to be cute. They probably all have been told at some point to take the back seat, wait, let others go first, etc. So it will take time to get them to fully take initiative. Though, I have a feeling it won’t be too hard.
This week is where it will get really interesting. We will start tolook at local problems and analyze them collectively. They will also start talking to people in their communities to try and get some more perspective on the issues they choose to work on. We’ll continue to build the ensemble, hone their performing skills, and get them to work collectively.
I am looking forward to really hearing their thinking, their experiences, their points of view. I forgot how top down even a very open ensemble training can be. I am not used to pointing out where they are making mistakes and giving them suggestions/directions.
Now that we are working with their lives, their raw material, I get to encourage and let them lead which is the way I prefer to do things.
I can’t believe that I miss them all after not seeing them for only one day. It was nice to post their photos here and remember the unique personalities of each individual. You’ll see more from them in the coming weeks. Eventually, I hope to have some video of their pieces. Watch out, these birds are gonna fly!