Simorgh Theatre performs for the Afghan National Police (ANCOP) in 2011.
Thanks to support from the United States Institute for Peace, BST is initiating an Election Fraud Mitigation Project in preparation for the upcoming Presidential elections in Afghanistan on April 5, 2014, a critical event. This project builds on our ongoing capacity-building for theatre groups to bring information to hard-to-reach places.
BST travels to Kabul in July to assist our Afghan partners implement theatre-based voter education. The goal is to devise performances that illuminate voter rights, women's rights, and common barriers to voting. The team is working with election officials and monitors to inform the shows.
The troupes will present the educational performances with post-show dialogues, which give audiences the opportunity to discuss problems and role-play their solutions. All-female troupes bring this important information to women in isolated areas and prepare them to speak out and vote.
In addition, the Afghan theatre groups will conduct leadership workshops for youth throughout Afghanistan focusing on this generation's role in determining and leading the new Afghanistan. Read more about this innovative project as it progresses on the BST website.
Updates from Myanmar
Eugenio Barba and Julia Varley of Odin Teatret visit with Michael, Joanna and Thila Min in Yangon.
BST Directors returned to Myanmar in April to continue working on our dual-language production of
Volpone with Thukhuma Khayeethe (TK), Myanmar's first contemporary theatre company.
The month-long collaboration with the theatre group included enlightening discussions with Thila Min, Director of TK, about Myanmar's new openness, Buddhism, cultural history, understanding the roots of the recent violence, and theatre's potential to freely address these issues. Our collaboration on the play,Volpone, will be a springboard for these topics.
Together, the Directors studied Burmese and Western performance styles and how they can blend in style, character, music, dance, and structure. We looked at DVDs of famous old zat pwe performances, Burma's traditional all-night entertainment. The shows always begin with a nat pwe, a dance to get spirits on the good side of the artists. The costumes and altar to these spirits are, as Thila says, very "bling bling," which fits well with the themes in Volpone, and our play will also begin with a nat pwe.
All theatre outside traditional Burmese forms has been forbidden for decades under the Myanmar dictatorship. TK is currently the only local theatre group approaching contemporary theatre. Our plans are to take the performances to major cities to start, then eventually into the rural areas. In the past, we performed educational shows for children in the jungle areas. Our play -- theatre with social critique -- presents a huge change for Burmese audiences. TK is opening a new door.