Shakespeare Goes to Afghanistan kabul, Afghanistan

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Name ______________________________ Core _________ Date ________________________

Shakespeare Goes to Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan Shakespeare has come to Afghanistan. One of his famous plays has reminded a violence-filled nation that love and laughter are universal.

Afghanistan once had a thriving theater scene. In started centuries ago, when storytellers reenacted religious myths and legends. In the 1940s, the nation's actors began performing modern theater to great acclaim and admiration. Not long after, though, violence disrupted Afghanistan's cultural activities, and in the 1990s, a group called the Taliban took over the nation's government. The Taliban government forbade the theater, arguing that the Islam religion did not allow it. When the Taliban fell in 2001, theater in Afghanistan began a rebirth.

In September, a theater troupe performed the Shakespeare comedy Love's Labors Lost in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. The play had been translated into Dari, one of the nation's two main languages, and the setting had been changed from France to Afghanistan. The story is about a fictitious king and three friends who vow to sacrifice food, sleep, and the company of women so they can study and become great scholars. Their scheme unravels when a princess and her three handmaidens arrive on the scene.

Shakespeare came up with the plot, but the play seemed tailor-made for Afghanistan. Why? Just like the king in the play tried to enforce study and did not allow social activities, the Taliban preached the strict study of Islam. The Taliban also did not allow entertainment, including music and art. Even today, Afghanistan is a strict society, particularly for women; many women still wear burqas, the coverings that conceal everything but their eyes. By contrast, the actresses in the play showed their faces and flirted with the male characters. The Afghan audience, which could identify with the theme of love, openly cheered for the characters.

"Shakespeare is so adaptable because he writes universal truths of human experience," said an American who helped adapt the play.

Many people say they hope theater will once again be a prominent part of life in Afghanistan. They say that in a nation with so much theatrical history, plays can help spread good will.

"Theater is the best way to communicate messages in Afghanistan, whether it be about peace, democracy, or women's rights," said an Afghan playwright. "It's much more popular than television."

Love's Labor's Lost played to a packed audience of diplomats, residents, and street kids. The play's success suggests that theater has a healthy future in Afghanistan.

"There's starting to be more and more shows being put on now. It's wonderful," said the playwright.


Afghanistan (noun) a country in Asia

play (noun) a story that is acted out

Shakespeare (noun) a writer from long ago

communicate (verb) to share information

playwright (noun) a person who writes plays

scholar (noun) a person who is dedicated to learning

Taliban (noun) a group that ruled Afghanistan and limited what people (especially women) could do

acclaim (noun) praise

adaptable (adjective) changeable; adjustable

diplomat (noun) a member of the government who deals with foreign countries

reenact (verb) to act something out that has already happened

universal (adjective) used or understood by all
Multiple Choice: Circle the letter of the choice the best completes the statement. (2 points each)

1. What is the article mainly about?

  1. A production of a Shakespeare play inspires a surge of theater students in Afghanistan.

  2. A production of a Shakespeare play shows how talented the actors are.

  3. A production of a Shakespeare play signals a comeback for theater in Afghanistan.

  4. A production of a Shakespeare play shows how talented the author is.

2. What led to the end of theater in Afghanistan in the 1990s?

  1. The popularity of television in Afghanistan

  2. The amount of violence in Afghanistan

  3. The rise of the Taliban government in Afghanistan

  4. The rise of the Islam religion in Afghanistan

3. If an idea is universal, __________.

  1. Most people oppose it.

  2. Most people understand it.

  3. It is quite challenging to explain.

  4. It is very difficult to translate.

4. A topic sentence reads, "Shakespeare came up with the plot, but the play seemed tailor-made for Afghanistan." Which detail is most relevant to this topic sentence?

  1. The play was translated into Dari, one of Afghanistan's two main languages.

  2. Love's Labors Lost was performed in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

  3. Love's Labor's Lost played to a packed audience of diplomats, residents, and street kids.

  4. The play showed a king who enforced study, just as the Taliban preached the strict study of Islam.

5. Which is the closest synonym for the word acclaim?

  1. Reaction

  2. Praise

  3. Popularity

  4. Agreement

6. How did the performance of Love's Labors Lost in Afghanistan differ from a traditional performance?

  1. The plot and characters were changed.

  2. The language was translated and the characters were different.

  3. The setting and plot were changed.

  4. The language was translated and the setting was different.

7. If the Afghan playwright quoted in the article is correct, what will happen in Afghanistan?

  1. Theater will be performed only when the plays are translated into Dari.

  2. Theater will promote peace and spread good will.

  3. Theater will become popular with a wider range of people.

  4. Theater will represent the ideals of the Taliban government.

8. Which question is not answered by the article?

  1. What year was Shakespeare born?

  2. What is Love's Labors Lost about?

  3. What was the original setting of Love's Labors Lost?

  4. What makes Shakespeare's plays appealing to different audiences?

Opinion Question: Let's say your school is planning to perform a play. Which would you most like to do?

  • Act out a big part in the play

  • Act out a small part in the play

  • Make the scenery for the play

  • Make the costumes for the play

  • Watch the play

Thought Question: For many years, people in Afghanistan wished that they could put on plays. Now they can. Which subject do you wish your school would teach—or teach more of—that it is not teaching now? Why do you think this subject is important?

Math- There are 8,040 people who want to see the newest play in Afghanistan. Each showing of the play can seat 2,000 people. How many times will the show have to play in order for everyone to be able to see it once?

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