Michael and Joanna just returned from Jalalabad, Afghanistan, where they were working with Maiwand Theatre Company from Kandahar conducting 2 weeks of workshops and 2 weeks of performances. They held the program in Jalalabad, however, a safer area than the problematic province of Kandahar.
The Kandahar group consisted of six male actors plus six women who would become Kandahar's first all-women's theatre group! The women had had minimal training to start but, by the end of the program, they were performing with confidence and poise. The group created a show about women's rights to education, a crucial topic in Kandahar where women and girls receive death threats for attending school.
The men created a show about Afghanistan's new law condemning violence against women, and presented it to male audiences who need to learn more about women's rights. The actors, men and women, have now returned home to Kandahar and continue their performances throughout the community.
It was a particularly difficult time in Afghanistan, with confusion about the so-called "American" film, along with general apprehension about the future -- that is, the upcoming Afghan elections and troop withdrawal in 2014. Our Afghan friends and fellow artists took extra care for us and we were in safe hands always. But we all had to shake our heads and ask, "We all want the same thing -- peace -- why can't we just get along?"