Shakespeare feast!
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Shakespeare feast!

Loves' Labour's Lost is the first of the Bard's plays staged in 25 years in Afghanistan.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2005 20:21 IST

Afghanistan's first public performance of a Shakespeare play in a quarter-century raised delighted laughter from a packed house this week, with most of the audience having never seen live theatre before - much less men and women acting together.

"It's the first time I've ever seen anything like this in my life and I really loved it. Especially when the boys did Indian dances," said Rafi Aria, a 24-year-old singer who performs on Afghan television and sings at weddings.

Aria was one of more than 200 people who attended yesterday's opening night of Love's Labour's Lost, performed in Persian under apple trees in a garden at the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society in central Kabul.

The comedy, about a prince and three of his courtiers who swear off love for three years only to be undone when they are visited by a princess and her ladies-in-waiting, was adapted to an Afghan setting with slapstick Bollywood songs woven into the narrative.

Lovelorn suitor King Ferdinand of Navarre became King Haroon of Kabul; his paramour was the princess of western Afghanistan's Herat, not France.

For most of the Afghan audience in the strictly Muslim society, the mere sight of actors and actresses flirting and laughing on stage was a revelation.

"I was very nervous before we began the performance but when people in the audience started laughing and clapping, I knew they were happy," teenage actress Leila Fahkri said.

Award-winning French actress Corinne Jabar, who directed the performance, said addressing the issue of relations between men and women in such a conservative culture was one of the main challenges during the six-week rehearsals.

First Published: Sep 01, 2005 12:27 IST