Bond St Theatre Honoured at Prague Quadrennial

Bond Street Theatre will be featured for the Scenic and Lighting Design of Beyond the Mirror, their 2005 collaboration with Exile Theatre of Afghanistan.

New York, NY, June 14, 2011 - Bond Street Theatre will be featured at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space for their striking play, Beyond The Mirror, created with the Exile Theatre of Kabul and depicting personal stories over 30 years of war. The production is the first ever US-Afghan theatre collaboration; its design will be featured in the USITT-USA National Exhibit at the 2011 Prague Quadrennial held from June 16-26, 2011. Bond Street Theatre Directors Joanna Sherman and Michael McGuigan will present the story behind the production on Sunday, June 19th at 3:20pm at the Main Exhibition Hall at the Veletrzni Palace in Prague. 

The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space is the world's largest performance design event - a presentation of contemporary work in a variety of performance design disciplines and genres including costume, stage, lighting, sound design, and theatre architecture for dance, opera, drama, site-specific, multi-media performances and performance art. Founded in 1967, the Prague Quadrennial has presented work from more than 70 countries on 5 continents. The Prague Quadrennial for Performance Design and Space is the pre-eminent scenographic exhibition in the world. 

Beyond the Mirror is a visual journey through Afghanistan's recent history - portrayed through first-hand accounts, filmed montages, physical storytelling, traditional dances, shadow play, puppetry, and live music on the rubab - to reveal the strength of human spirit during war and occupation. Beyond the Mirror weaves a tapestry of events, both desperate and hopeful, drawn from the lives of children, village elders, widows of the wars, and mujahideen warriors. 

"The first collaboration between an Afghan and an American theater company, it has a quiet authority, even delicacy, that is truly powerful." -- Margo Jefferson, The New York Times 

Beyond the Mirror was conceived in northern Pakistan in March 2002 where members of Bond Street Theatre were performing in Afghan refugee camps. There they met Exile Theatre, a dauntless group of Afghan actors who dared to present live theatre despite the restrictions of the times. The two companies were immediately drawn to each other's theatrical views and techniques, and planned to create a new work together. The plan came to fruition the following year in Kabul and, since that time, has grown into a full-length theatre work. The play made its world premiere at the 2nd Theatre Festival in Kabul in August 2005, traveled to festivals in Japan, made its US premiere in New York and Baltimore in October-November 2005, and then returned to the US in 2009 for a performance tour in California. 

Bond Street Theatre and Exile Theatre faced numerous challenges in creating a play that exposed personal and profound tragedies gathered over two years of interviews. Relying on their physical and visual theatre techniques, the two groups struggled to find creative ways to portray horrific events on stage so that they would be watchable yet not lose intensity and impact. 

The two companies also found few materials to create their play. Just after the war, Afghanistan was rubble; the elements of normal life were a morass of twisted metal and shattered stone. However, there were scraps enough to make puppets, fabric for a shadow screen, a few artifacts of home life, and their ingenuity. When professional lighting design was added in 2005 by designers Jeanne Koenig and Jesse Belsky, the production took a major step forward, yet the technical elements of Beyond the Mirror remain simple, letting the stories speak for themselves. Bond Street Theatre is pleased to be recognized for these effective technical elements at the Prague Quadrennial of Design. 

"The troupe's inventiveness makes the effects of war viscerally clear." 
-- Josselyn Simpson, Time Out New York

Bond Street Theatre continues its work in Afghanistan. Their current Theatre for Social Development project assists local theatre organizations to use theatre as a means to bring information to isolated and illiterate communities, empower women and girls, and stimulate creativity in the next generation. Their current project is bringing them to women's prisons and shelters, and helping to revitalize the theatre arts in Afghanistan after years of displacement and cultural deprivation. 

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Olivia Harris at 212-254-4614

Bond Street Theatre, founded in 1978, creates theatre that crosses cultural borders and initiates theatre-based projects for education, conflict resolution and healing in areas of conflict and poverty globally. The company collaborates with local artists to enjoy the benefits of artistic exchange and promotes the value of the arts in shaping a peaceful future. Recipient of a MacArthur Award, the company has also received support from the Theatre Communications Group, Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, US Institute for Peace, US Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, NEA, US Embassies, and others, and performs in theatres and festivals worldwide. 

Bond Street Theatre is a non-profit organization, and an NGO in association with the UN-DPI. 

Artistic Director: Joanna Sherman 
Managing Director: Michael McGuigan 

Bond Street Theatre -- 2 Bond Street, New York, NY 10012 USA 
212-254-4614 tel -- 212-460-9378 fax --