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Dust Allergy, New Play by Nushin Arbabzadah

Playwright and internationally recognized scholar of Afghanistan, Nushin Arbabzadah, explores the experience of living abroad and then returning home in her new play about Afghan/U.S. cultural crossings, Dust Allergy. It is a tender story of compassion, even pulling one’s heartstrings with the sub-plot of a three legged puppy. Many issues are raised, such as child poverty, women’s rights, and imperialism. Please join us on October 7th as this play is staged for the first time.

Nineteen-year-old Arzo, the protagonist, recently returned from the U.S. and is living again with her mother in their family home in Kabul. She observes facets of Afghan culture from the perspective of outsider in a conversation with her mother about their current living situation. Arzo’s reason for traveling to the U.S. was to learn English with the goal of obtaining work in Kabul paid in U.S. Dollars. The economic disparities related to language and culture reveal a colonizer/colonized relationship between the two countries, and the complicated situation that creates for Afghans – needing to cross cultural boundaries in order to obtain financial and physical security. The one-act play unfolds by way of the conversation between mother and daughter and is rich with metaphor, symbolism, and many direct and indirect references to Afghan cultural traditions. This is an excellent story to “unpack” with regard to the challenges of navigating cultural difference, the meaning of cultural relativism, and the phenomenon of reverse culture shock. Arzo’s personal drama of re-entry into Afghan culture also reveals many layers of the evolving Afghan story with regard to class, gender, modernity, and globalization.

Arbabzadah’s aforementioned work is a part of Sahar Speaks, two plays commissioned by Palindrome Productions of London and adapted for the stage from stories by Afghan women, these two one-act plays–Parwana: They Bear All the Pain by Alia Bano and Dust Allergy by Nushin Arbabzadah–offer a rare and revealing look into Afghan women’s lives. On October 3rd Arbabzadah will deliver a lecture on the history of Afghan theatre, which in her words, “may go to sleep but never dies in Afghanistan.”

Image of girls on Afghan street.

Image of girls on Afghan street. Kabul street Jan 2014 by Michael Foley via Flickr CC2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelfoleyphotography/12053283655

These performances are part of On the Front Lines, a series of events centered on Afghanistan, organized by Lesley Ferris, Art and Humanities Distinguished Professor of Theatre and sponsored by a Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme Creation Grant. Co-sponsored by The Department of History, the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, the Middle East Studies Center, the Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Service and the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Institute at the University Library.

 

 

Opening Day Events on October 7th

Mark your calendar! October 7th 2019 is the official start of the On the Front Lines: Performing Afghanistan project. Join us for the opening events (details below)! These include two one-act plays based on stories written by Afghan women and adapted for the stage, images of Kabul presented by photojournalist, Joël van Houdt, and authentic Afghan culture, as we watch, socialize, and discuss. Complete information on the guest artists and scholars can be found on this page. We are also hosting top scholars in the field of theatre to discuss topics relevant to Afghan history and culture, including the history of Afghan theatre, theatrical practices that the military uses for simulating field operations in Afghanistan, and “the Great Game.

The aforementioned plays were commissioned as part of a larger project to bring Afghan women’s voices to the public more prominently through storytelling and theatre. The project, On the Front Lines: Performing Afghanistan, is directed by Lesley Ferris, Art and Humanities Distinguished Professor of Theatre at Ohio State University. Palindrome Productions produced several of the plays in London prior to this project. The first three plays, are based on stories written for the Huffington Post by Afghan women journalists who completed training through Sahar Speaks.  Now Ohio State University is home to this project which will engage and build an intellectual community around the issues brought up in the plays.

 

On the Front Lines: Performing Afghanistan, Opening Events, October 7, 2019

 

4:30 p.m.
Sahar Speaks: Voices of Women from Afghanistan
Film/Video Theater
Wexner Center for the Arts

Playwrights Nushin Arbabzadah and Alia Bano adapted these works for the stage, giving a rare and revealing look into Afghan women’s lives. Following the performances, the playwrights, with invited guests, join the post-performance discussion with Lesley Ferris, Art and Humanities Distinguished Professor of Theatre at Ohio State University and other invited guests. Since 2016 Dr. Ferris, as Artistic Director of Palindrome Productions (London), commissioned and produced the first four plays for  Sahar Speaks. This event is free but we ask that you obtain a ticket through the Wexner Center.

5:45 p.m.
Chai Khana Social Hour
Wexner Center for the Arts Lower Lobby

Afghan afternoon tea and refreshments.

7:00 p.m.
Joël van Houdt: “Kuja Meri?” (Where are you going?): Afghan Refugees Across the Globe
Film/Video Theater
Wexner Center for the Arts

Dutch photographer Joël van Houdt’s discusses his gripping exhibit documenting the journeys of Afghan refugees around the world following the despair resulting from the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan. This event is free but we ask that you obtain a ticket through the Wexner Center.

 

Supported by a Global Arts and Humanities Discovery Theme Grant

Presented by the Department of Theatre and the Middle East Studies Center with support from the Department of History, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC), the Wexner Center for the Arts, and the Middle East and Islamic Studies Service and Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute at the University Library.

Image of Panjir Valley, Afghanistan. Photo by Tom McClimans.

Panjir Valley, Afghanistan. Photo by Tom McClimans. All rights reserved.