Shakespeare’s Comedy-e Eshtebahat

This year the pioneering Afghan theatre company – ‘Rah-e-Sabz’ (Path of Hope) – will be staging Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors in Dari at the Globe theatre as part of the London 2012 Festival. The Globe is hosting productions of all of Shakespeare’s 37 plays, each performed in a different language.

The path to the Afghan production is by no means easy. Notwithstanding the fall of the Taliban, a woman appearing on stage in Afghanistan is still perceived by some to be little better than a prostitute. For over a generation men and women have not appeared on stage together and professional theatre barely exists.

A performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost, by William Shakespeare, in the Bagh-e Babur, Kabul, in a 2005 production by Rah-e Sabz. Photograph: AP Photo/Tomas Munita

Set up in 2005 by Corinne Jaber, Rah-e-Sabz is one of the only theatre groups in Afghanistan. So precarious is the current climate – the group was set to practice at the British Council in Kabul the same afternoon on which it was bombed – that the troupe are no longer able to rehearse in their homeland and so are bound for India before their UK performance at the Globe this May.

The fundraising launch for this theatrical endeavour was hosted by Simon Robey of the Royal Opera House at his home in Upper Wimpole Street. Impassioned talks were given by Rory Stewart MP and Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles. Both commended the incredible zeal of Corinne and her co-producer Roger Granville and the important role of the company in reviving and fostering Afghanistan’s theatrical legacy.

The Comedy of Errors (Comedy-e Eshtebahat in Dari) will be staged at the Globe Theatre, London on 30-31st May 2012. Tickets can be bought direct from The Globe. This will be followed by performances at Hatfield House and the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford. More information on those events will follow and you can expect to read more about the production in the pages of Steppe. Meanwhile, calling all polyglots with free time on their hands – if you fancy tackling all 37 plays and all 37 languages, including Troilus and Cressida in Maori, you can see the lot for £100, standing every time. Go on – you know you want to.