In 2005, a rising tide of optimism was sweeping through post-Taliban Afghanistan. Perhaps nothing captured this more poignantly than the performance of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost by a group of Afghan actors in Kabul. After decades of war, oppression, intolerance and unimaginable devastation, men and women appeared on stage together—foreign journalists sang praises, Afghan audiences cheered. Th e future held no limits, they all believed. Qais Akbar Omar, a writer, served as Assistant Director and interpreter for the French actress Corinne Jaber, who had visited Afghanistan on holiday and returned to direct the play; Stephen Landrigan, a playwright, assembled a team of Afghan translators to fashion in Dari a script as poetic as Shakespeare’s. In this brisk, warm and frequently funny account, Qais and Stephen capture the triumphs and foibles of the actors as they extend their passion for Afghan poetry to that of Shakespeare.
But violence has not yet had its fi ll of Afghanistan and tragedy visits its men and women every day. And yet, in the midst of carnage and despair, hope still remains—that things will one day be better. A tribute to that hope, Shakespeare in Kabul is a moving narrative about a group of people who chose to believe in their country’s future.