Both of my previous theatre projects have relied on traditional folk tales from their respective cultures, but I decided to try something different this year. I could not be sure that all the participants would be of the same nationality, (though in reality 100% have turned out to be of Afghani origin.) I also wanted to gauge what might be possible when I met them.
I did have in mind a hugely abbreviated version of Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle however. It is a play I know well, as it was the first play I performed in at college, and was also Thame Youth Theatre’s first “proper” play. Notably (some will remember) it had my baby daughter in it, as the baby. That was not entirely successful, but I was proud of the rest of the production (and Lucy seems to have survived unscathed – she’s nearly 30 now.) It struck me as being particularly relevant, as it tells the story of a refugee. I would need to be careful, of course – I do not want to revisit trauma – but I am confident that the fairy tale approach to the story, the stylised theatrical technique, and the positive ending, will avoid this.
I started work on the adaptation soon after I arrived; the original play needed to be radically simplified. This is echoed in the shortening of the title, meaning I wouldn’t have to explain that word to them, and they wouldn’t have to try to say it. I have – of course – written it in English, but it will be performed in a mixture of Dari and English; they will have to translate it piecemeal as we go along, with assistance from those whose English is up to it.
Particular thanks go to my good friend Paul, who made a generous donation for me to use as I think fit to help the project. That money has been partly used to pay for the copying and binding of the scripts. But will the project work? Only time will tell. It is something of a leap of faith (though any production needs that) but I am putting my confidence in an intelligent, talented and increasingly confident cast. Wish us all luck.