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Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 22:36 GMT
Kabul's theatre returns to life
Afghanis crowd round a TV set to watch a video
TV has also made a come-back in Afghanistan
The National Theatre in Kabul was burning on Tuesday - but the flames were part of the performance, not a product of the civil war which has kept the theatre closed for the last six years.

What these people wanted to show was that art, music and culture will not die in this country and nobody can kill them

Afghan culture minister

Now, with the fall of the Taleban, the theatre is back in business, holding its first play since the Islamic militia group took power, outlawing all forms of entertainment.

The new interim culture and higher education ministers were among an audience of hundreds who watched the Kabul Theatre Company perform on Tuesday in a playhouse that has no proper roof and whose walls have been repeatedly bombed.

The main skit told the story of the rise and fall of the Taleban regime - with the main actor setting fire to the buckled infrastructure that was once a stage, and another actor arriving to find that the Taleban had set fire to his home, his theatre, "and the whole of Afghanistan".

A woman then appeared in a wedding dress, symbolising the return of peace.

It had the audience roaring for more.

The piece was followed by a musical recital by a quartet playing traditional Afghan instruments and national songs performed by popular Afghan star Aziz Ghaznaway.

Proud to be back

"We are really proud that after such a long time we are able to bring theatre to the people again," said the show's producer, Najibullah Arian.

Boxers in Kabul
Boxing matches have also returned to the capital
"Our aim with this play is to re-establish theatre in Kabul and to bring to the attention of the world the poor state of the Kabul theatre house," said the principle actor, Najibullah Ghanzada.

He said that if the Ministry of Culture or the international community were able to provide funding, he would be able to hold further performances and even write new plays.

"My dream is to have a proper theatre, with real seats, a roof and a stage... maybe even a curtain."

Raheen Makhdoom, the new interim government's minister for culture said that "what these people wanted to show was that art, music and culture will not die in this country and nobody can kill them".

See also:

02 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
Afghan TV appeals for funds
28 Dec 01 | Film
Bollywood plans Afghan movie
19 Nov 01 | South Asia
Kabul goes film crazy
Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.

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