Shakespeare Among the Suicide Bombers

On October 3rd, I attended a lecture given by Nushin Arbabzada, entitled: Shakespeare Among the Suicide Bombers. Arbabzada is a playwright, journalist, and scholar who discussed the cultural significance of theater throughout the history of Afghanistan and how it falls within the crossfire of conflict within the country today. Theater and the arts have always served as vehicles to the voices of those in positions without a guaranteed audience from leaders, but what was fascinating to me within this lecture was learning how theater has been used as a bridge built by those in positions of power to their people. I personally view relations between people and those that lead them as something not associated with the arts and culturally significant parts of life, rather I’m drawn to a cut and dry idea of formally brutal interactions between citizens and those that govern them. By this, I suppose I mean to say that it is rare to come face to face with a government working to utilize activities of cultural significance in the name of mutual respect and cooperation with citizens. I feel as though this sentiment may be exhausting to hear as it has certainly begun to echo throughout my sentiments in these entries, but I am once again brought to the realization that I am so very unaware of countries beyond ours, much less the complexities of relationship development and maintenance between the citizens and the governing bodies of nations. Beyond the intriguing dynamic that has been fostered between the citizens and government of Afghanistan through the arts, this connection also allows for a more personal and culturally holistic analysis of how citizens of the nation themselves view the extremist groups that attempt to claim the country as their own. The fact that extremist groups that are considered by the citizens of Afghanistan to act as terror groups, harm the theater community’s presence and act in violence without effort contributed towards connection through cultural tools like theater, indicates a lack in cooperative interaction from the extremist groups.

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