Love in Afghanistan
by Charles Randolph-Wright
directed by Lucie Tiberghien
originally produced at Arena Stage,
October 11, 2013
through November 17, 2013
(Melis Aker as Roya and Joseph Kamal as Sayeed. Photo by Teresa Wood.)
From resident playwright Charles Randolph-Wright (Blue, Cuttin' Up) comes a daring world premiere drama set to take audiences on a thrilling, romantic adventure in a chaotic land. Meet Duke and Roya, two fantastically different people discovering love in the most unlikely of places: war-torn Afghanistan. One, an emerging hip-hop artist, the other, a high-level Afghan interpreter, both fight to navigate the pitfalls of romance, religious differences and political unrest.
With the recent surge of popular media exploring America’s military presence abroad, with hits such as the fact-based motion picture Zero Dark Thirty and fictional television series Homeland, it is clear that Americans are intrigued by our country’s volatile relationship with countries in and surrounding the Middle East. But these discussions of American influence in that area go far beyond what we see in the movies; in light of President Obama’s plans to steadily withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, eyes across the world have been focused on that process.
Thus, Love in Afghanistan is a modern voice offering a unique perspective on some of the differences—and similarities—between American and Afghanistan culture. Its fictional premise is based in the reality of young Afghan women living as “bacha posh,” a truth that was illuminated for American readers like Charles in a New York Times article. As our world becomes ever smaller and America continues to welcome immigrants from all nations, we will continue to question and seek to understand these cultural trends that influence our diverse world. For these reasons, Love in Afghanistan is an important new addition to the American canon that juxtaposes two dissimilar cultures, and its messages of tolerance and respect will ring clear for American audiences.
With scenes occurring in the U.S. and Afghanistan, the juxtaposition between cultures is even more pronounced as this provocative new play questions the gender and identity stereotypes we all face. Love in Afghanistan examines how we translate ourselves across cultures and situations, especially in this global community that is the 21st century.
Arena Stage was originally planning a three-week rehearsal period for Love in Afghanistan and thus respectfully requested support from the Edgerton Foundation to help finance a fourth week of rehearsal for this project, which would allow for additional technical rehearsals and the chance to continue working on the script. Funding from the Foundation has helped to offset the housing and production costs for designers, cast, crew and staff during that time. Arena was also planning additional week of preview performances to give Love in Afghanistan ample time to develop in front of audiences prior to being critically reviewed for the first time, and asked the Edgerton Foundation to consider providing partial funding for the director, designer and consultant fees, as well as partial housing costs, to help support the significant growth that a second week of previews would afford.
Director: Lucie Tiberghien
Set Design: Daniel Conway
Lighting Design: Mark Lanks
Sound Design: Elisheba Ittoop
Costume Design: Kathleen Geldard
Dramaturg: Jocelyn Clarke
Original Music: Elisheba Ittoop
Stage Manager: Christi B. Spann
Casting: Jack Doulin
Dialects: Gary Logan