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Shakespeare in Kabulby Qais Akbar Omar
Synopses & Reviews
In 2005, a group of actors in Kabul performed Shakespeare's Loves Labour's Lost to the cheers of Afghan audiences and the raves of foreign journalists. For the first time in years, men and women had appeared onstage together. The future held no limits, the actors believed. In this fast-moving, fondly told and frequently very funny account, Qais Akbar Omar and Stephen Landrigan capture the triumphs and foibles of the actors as they extend their Afghan passion for poetry to Shakespeare's.Both authors were part of the production. Qais, a journalist, served as Assistant Director and interpreter for Paris actress, Corinne Jaber, who had come to Afghanistan on holiday and returned to direct the play. Stephen, himself a playwright, assembled a team of Afghan translators to fashion a script in Dari as poetic as Shakespeare's. This chronicle of optimism plays out against the heartbreak of knowing that things in Afghanistan have not turned out the way the actors expected.
The uplifting story of bringing Shakespeare to Afghanistan, with men and women appearing together for the first time since liberation.
About the Author
Stephen Landrigan is a former journalist who has reported for The Washington Post and BBC Radio, among others. He went to Afghanistan in 2004 to chronicle a innovative education program. He became fascinated by Afghan carpets, and stayed on in Afghanistan for nearly seven years in order to understand everything he could about the making of carpets and the culture from which they come.
His play, Pan Beaters, won first prize in London Weekend Televisions Plays on Stage Awards in 1989. He worked for many years in post-Communist Eastern Europe on economic development projects. He now lives in Massachusetts where he works with the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) that prepares young Afghan women to study at major American universities.
Qais Akbar Omar is the grandson of Kuchi nomads, and the fourth generation of his family to be actively engaged in the carpet trade. During the Taliban era, Qais set up a carpet factory in his home to provide employment illegally for some forty young women in his neighborhood. He designed the carpets his factory produced. A graduate of Kabul Universitys Faculty of Journalism, he taught himself English to assist the international development effort that swept into Afghanistan in 2002. He worked with US Agency for International Development and the Asia Development Bank to strengthen the Afghan carpet industry. He was invited to be a Visiting Scholar at the University of Colorado in 2007 to research environmentally-sound carpet washing methods, and was a featured speaker on Afghan carpets at the Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, Holland in 2008. A gifted natural storyteller, Qais is the author of the autobiographical account of the years of turmoil in Afghanistan, A Fort of Nine Towers. He lives in Kabul where he manages his familys carpet business while writing novels.
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