Under the Starry Sky - project with Afghan women

A creative theatre and art project with young women based in Herat & Kabul - Afghanistan
Facilitated by Rachel Karafistan, Cosmino Productions www.cosmino.org
INSTAGRAM: @underthestarrysky2023 / @cosminoproductions

More than a year has passed since the United States withdrew its troops from Afghanistan and left the country at the mercy of the Taliban. Within days women and girls found themselves without access to education beyond the 6th grade. The right of women to work is restricted, they cannot visit parks and they are unable to leave their homes without being covered and chaperoned by a male family member. In December 2022, all women lost access to university education. Soon girls and women will disappear from all public life.

In short, life as girls and women knew it, just over a year ago, has been transformed. They have lost all hope.

Since May 2022 I have been working as a volunteer for Herat Online School, founded by the inspirational teacher and educational activist, Angela Ghayour who fled Afghanistan as a young girl in 1992. As one of many volunteers providing English lessons online to young women located in Kabul and Herat, I have been humbled by their resilience, tenacity and hunger for life and learning. It became clear to me that as an artist and theatre maker, there was something more that I could do for these young women than merely correct their grammar.

We began meeting on a weekly basis, with a new creative focus; telling and writing stories, practising meditation, drawing from prompts, singing songs together, playing silly games and animating objects. It is with these tools of theatre that I have practised myself for over 25 years, that I plan to bring the voices of these young women out of their ‘prison’ in Afghanistan and into theatres all over the world. As Cosmino Productions, we will devise a hybrid performance featuring live on-stage action and direct online ‘interaction’ with the young women in Afghanistan. Their true identities will remain hidden because it is simply too dangerous to do otherwise, but the things they want to tell you will be given life and poetic space. And they want to tell you many things: they want to tell you the history of their country from their perspective, their personal stories, the stories of their mothers, their grandmothers and their hopes and dreams for the future. All this and more will burst into life with the help of song, object theatre, storytelling, and the internet.

English Theatre Berlin, Germany has kindly offered to premiere the performance in September 2023 which will be followed by an international tour of the production. Everywhere we go, we hope to raise awareness and achieve a deeper understanding of the lives and desperate plight of girls and women in Afghanistan. Only this time audiences will hear about them not from news reports and journalists but directly from the young women themselves, in their own uncensored words. `

So what will your money fund? :
- set, props, costume, and technical essentials for the production
- setting up an exhibition (venue to be confirmed) in Berlin of artwork and texts generated for the project. Printing postcards of the work for sale.
- a simple website to accompany the project
- a publication available for purchase documenting the project (all proceeds will go towards further development of the creative work of the young women)
- publicity and marketing for the project (posters / flyers)
- donation to Herat Online school to continue their important work with the young women

On behalf of these incredible young women who have burst into my life with their laughter, crazy sense of humour, tears of frustration, limitless energy and wisdom beyond their years, please give generously, so the world may hear their voices and move them closer to securing both their education and their freedom.

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Rachel Karafistan

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