Sunday, July 09, 2006

Shakespeare in Kabul: After years of a Taliban war on the arts, Afghan theater draws a tentative audience:

The towering mud and straw flanks of Herat's old citadel in western Afghanistan have seen the rise and fall of a thousand years' worth of Central Asian empires. They have protected noble kings, been damaged by bloodthirsty armies and served as a refuge for weary travelers on the Silk Road. But even a building as old as this still has its firsts.
Recently, before an audience of 250, five women on a stage of carpets took off their veils. Ripples went through the crowd. Five years ago, under Taliban rule, Herat's women could scarcely leave their houses. But this evening's event showed that times had changed in Afghanistan. The throng was gathered to watch something that was until very recently unthinkable -- an Afghan performance of Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost," in Dari.

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