Theatre News

Tricycle Stages Three-Month Afghanistan Season

12 plays will receive world premieres as part of the Tricycle’s forthcoming season dedicated to Afghanistan. The Great Game: Afghanistan runs from 24 April to 14 June 2009 (previews from 17 April) and features work by playwrights including Richard Bean, David Edgar, Abi Morgan, David Greig and Simon Stephens.

Announcing the season, Tricycle artistic director Nicolas Kent described it as “the most comprehensive over-view of Afghanistan’s history, culture and politics ever attempted in Britain”.

The Great Game: Afghanistan is divided into three parts, covering 175 years of the country’s history. Invasions & Independence examines the period 1842-1930, comprising Stephen JeffreysBugles at the Gates of Jalalabad, Ron Hutchinson‘s Durand’s Line, Amit Gupta‘s Campaign and Now Is the Time by Joy Wilkinson.

Part two, entitled Communism, The Mujahideen & The Taliban, covers the years 1979-1996 and features new plays by David Edgar (Black Tulips), J T Rogers (Blood and Gifts), David Greig (Miniskirts of Kabul) and Colin Teevan (the Lion of Kabul).

Part three – Enduring Freedom – brings us to the present day and comprises Honey by Ben Ockrent, The Night is Darkest Before Dawn by Abi Morgan, On the Side of the Angels by Richard Bean and Canopy of Stars by Simon Stephens.

The plays, which run in rep throughout the three-month festival, are all directed by Nicolas Kent and Indhu Rubasingham (who has previously directed Fabulation and Starstruck at the Tricycle), assisted by Rachel Grunwald.

The season will be performed by an ensemble company comprising – Sagar Arya, Daniel Betts, Paul Bhattacharjee, Lolita Chakrabarti, Michael Cochrane, Vincent Ebrahim, Nabil Elouahabi, Tom McKay, Danny Rahim, Jemma Redgrave, Jemima Rooper, Hugh Skinner, Ramon Tikaram and Rick Warden. Most are making their Tricycle debuts, with only Bhattacharjee, Cochrane and Elouahabi having worked at the Kilburn venue previously.

Afghanistan centre stage

Speaking about the motivation behind The Great Game, Nicolas Kent said: “The aim … is to help audiences understand more about Afghanistan, and to open up debate, appreciation and discussion on Afghanistan’s importance to Britain as we move into the second decade of the 21st century.”

“Afghanistan will be at the forefront of Western foreign policy for the next decade.  We get daily reports on Afghanistan in the media – yet we know very little about how the foreign policy of Britain, America, Europe and Russia towards that country has evolved over the past 175 years.”

The works featured cover a broad range of themes and historical events, including the 1842 defeat of the British Army by the Hindu Kush in Kabul (Jeffreys’ Bugles at the Gates of Jalalabad), the 1979 invasion of Soviet troops (Edgar’s Black Tulips) and the recent occupation of British troops battling the Taliban (Stephens’ Canopy of Stars).

Designs for all are by Pamela Howard and Miriam Nabarro, lighting is by James Farncombe, with sound by Tom Lishman. Full casting will be announced soon.

Readings & discussions

As well as the 12 premieres, there will also be an evening of play-readings in association with the National Theatre Studio (18 May), featuring Borders by Paven Virk and Eristave Reserve by Adam Brace.  And a series of debates and discussions on British/NATO involvement in Afghanistan will be held on 12, 19 and 26 May, each preceded by the premiere of Naomi Wallace’s play No Such Cold Thing.

The Great Game: Afghanistan also comprises a ten day film festival in the Tricycle Cinema (1-10 May), a concert from the Afghan Qawali Sham Sufi Group (4 & 5 May) and exhibitions of Afghan art and photography.

For further information on The Great Game: Afghanistan festival and a full schedule, visit

– by Theo Bosanquet