Notes from Artistic Director Molly Rice, about our upcoming show Khūrākī:
As many of you know, I received a commission from the Office of Public Art in April of 2017 to spend two years creating a new work for and with the refugee population of Pittsburgh. Next Saturday, a group of extraordinary refugee women from Afghanistan, five incredible actors, a mind-exploding army of volunteers and my company RealTime will make our final project, Khūrākī, happen for the first time.
The women’s main goal is to start a food business (there is no Afghan cuisine in Pittsburgh and they are INCREDIBLE cooks), and they will be cooking for the audience, gaining experience in commercial kitchens while introducing their cuisine. Through this project they’ve gotten training from community partners, learned about food business and performing arts, and collaborated deeply with me as subjects of their own “theatrical portraits”. They even cast their own actors and participated in a Forum Theater workshop. We’ve been through a lot together ?
These are women who were relegated to their homes during the Taliban time. Work and school were illegal for them. And if they did go out, they had to wear a garment that covered every inch of their bodies, including their faces— a systematized expression of utter dismissal of their existence as human beings.
In these past two years I have watched them return to the world. They ride the bus to our meetings with their babies in tow, they come to theater events and restaurant supply stores and brave the stares of some less-than-polite folks to reach toward self-sufficiency with both hands. They practice English EVERY DAY and it gets better week by week. I have been a privileged witness to this ongoing transformation.
What I have tried to do with the creation and writing of Khūrākī is to celebrate not only Afghan culture (at their request, and with their careful guidance) but to express each of these unique human beings as they have revealed themselves to me over the past 2 years— with all the bravery, generosity, kindness and determination of people that have endured the worst of human oppression and have come through it. They are doing more than surviving. They are BLOOMING now. And I want you to witness it with me.
Come see what we’ve made, and what they will CONTINUE making. No one, no one will stop them.
For tickets and info:
To support the project with a donation:
And thank you, as always, for supporting live, community-fueled arts.