Articles for the ‘The Great Game: Afghanistan’ Category


How The Great Game emptied the Pentagon

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 by Tricycle

Featured in The Guardian (2 March 2011), read Nicolas Kent’s diary of the Pentagon performances.

Three years’ ago as yet another script about the war in Iraq crossed my desk I became very aware that the story had moved on, but that the arts and, to some extent the media, had not. Afghanistan was going to be the challenge for Western foreign policy for the next decade, yet in early 2008 there was not much reporting of it, and no artistic response to the war except for The Kite Runner. I knew little about Afghanistan, but was determined to find out more. It soon became evident to me that if we were to do anything theatrically meaningful about foreign involvement in Afghanistan since the British invasion 170 years ago it would take more than one play and more than one evening.

After talking to a number of playwrights a plan evolved. The project became a day-long immersion, twelve half hour plays interspersed with some verbatim interviews from politicians, journalists and soldiers, taking the audience on a journey from the first Anglo-Afghan wars to Independence; from the Russian invasion to the CIA arming of the Mujahideen; from the coming of the Taliban to Operation Enduring Freedom, the reconstruction, aid-workers and the present situation in Helmand. Nine month’s later, the dozen writers had all delivered, I had spent a hectic week in Kabul, my co-director, Indhu Rubasingham, and I had cast the plays, Pamela Howard had designed the sets and the 115 costumes, and after six weeks rehearsals we had opened The Great Game at the Tricycle Theatre in London.

A year later we revived the production in London before taking it on a US national tour. In July before leaving for America Sir David Richards, then Head of the British Army, hosted a day-long performance for the British military, Whitehall policy-makers, and soldiers about to deploy to Afghanistan. (more…)


A great vision…

Thursday, February 17th, 2011 by Tricycle

HE Masood Khalili, former political adviser to Commander Massoud, and Afghan Ambassador to Spain, made a special trip to Washington DC last week to attend the performance of THE GREAT GAME.

Below is an extract from a message he sent after watching the production:

“Thank you to the Bob Woodruff Foundation, for all Great things that all of you did to show THE GREAT GAME in DC. What a night it was, a night full of love and appreciation for the heroes who gave and give their lives for freedom, faith and global peace.

We all know that war is the worst option but we also know that mercy to the wolf is cruelty to the lamb. If unjust does not want to recognize justice, justice knows who is unjust.

Thank you for sponsoring the plays on the 100 years of history of Afghanistan. What a great vision to show history through art and culture to reach the hearts and touch the minds. The more you know the freer you are.

The plays were excellent. God bless The Tricycle Theatre of London, and God bless their Artistic Director Nick Kent. Watching the play on Commander Massoud and my life was indeed filling my eyes and heart with tears and smiles. It is a great emotional moment when you see yourself not in the mirror but on the stage; you talk while you are silent. Our past actions are the roots and we are all the fruits, sour or sweet.

Great thanks to the Public Relations office of the US Defense Department and British Council too.”


Worth a Bottle of Whiskey

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 by Tricycle

Maureen Dowd writes on the Pentagon performances of The Great Game, in the Opinion Pages of The New York Times….

“Worth a Bottle Of Whiskey

Our 3,413th day at war in Afghanistan seemed like a good day to learn about Afghanistan.

The longest stretch of war in American history has merited the shortest attention span.

I didn’t go to Kabul on the secretary of defense’s Doomsday plane this time. I signed up with the Pentagon for time travel, flying through history watching a remarkable seven-hour marathon of a 12-play series called “The Great Game.” The plays use real and fictional characters, actual transcripts and imagined scenes, to trace the trellis of foreign involvement in Afghanistan from 1842 to the present.”

Click here to read the full article…

Great Game

Latest news from the Pentagon performances…

Friday, February 11th, 2011 by Great Game

Update from Washington, from Jonathan Levy, Chair of the Tricycle Board:

I am writing this post from Washington, after the first of The Great Game trilogy days. The plays are being shown in the Shakespeare Theater, an 800 seater theater where the production was performed as part of the the USA tour. The performances are primarily being sponsored by the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which is an impressive organisation, and also the British Council, whose Chief Executive Martin Davidson was in attendance.

The audience for the three plays varied from Top Brass Generals to ex-Ambassadors to Policy makers to journalists and many more. The plays went down really well and at the end of Part 3 there was an instant standing ovation with muted applause which I thought reflected how the audience had been moved by the totality of the experience. Part 3 must be more difficult for Americans to watch as the plays are effectively putting a mirror up to them, whereas Parts 1 and 2 deal far more with British. Throughout, the audience were absorbed and totally mesmerised. (more…)

Great Game

The Last Leg…

Thursday, December 30th, 2010 by Great Game

We arrived in New York on the 29th November. The company reassembling from the Thanksgiving break – some had been back to England, but the majority had been traveling and holidaying in the U.S. I arrived in the afternoon from Washington. The crew were already half-way through the fit-up at the Skirball Theatre on Washington Square. The theatre doubles as a lecture hall for NYU and is somewhat antiseptic and incredibly wide – the width rather dwarfed our set. The very institutional foyer had been enlivened by a wonderful Afghan – Temur – who had followed us from Washington, and set up a stall of Afghan jewellery, carpets and crafts. He did a roaring trade, especially on the trilogy days.

The first week was spent hectically getting used to the space, and New York’s harsh biting cold wind – somewhat akin to what London was experiencing in the first week in December. The first performance on Wednesday took all of us by surprise – the audience, compared to those we had experienced elsewhere, was completely unresponsive; luckily however Oskar Eustis (the Artistic Director of the Public Theater) was immensely supportive – as were the Chair of our Board and Baz Bamigboye who had flown in especially for this opening performance. Somehow we all had not found the right energy for the space but over the next two days things radically improved, and by the weekend everyone had got into their stride. The two weekend press trilogy days were much much more accomplished – the audiences too were incredibly responsive, and we got standing ovations on both days. (more…)

Great Game

‘A positive and creative and brilliant experience’

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 by Great Game

Actress Jemma Redgrave gave two interviews about her time with The Great Game: Afghanistan:

“When you talk about Afghan history and the politics, it sounds dry and rather didactic. But these are excellent plays”

Metro New York

When the cycle of Afghan-related plays ends on Dec. 19, Redgrave says she’ll be distraught. “It’s a very sad thing always to say goodbye to something that’s been such a positive and creative and brilliant experience.”

Yahoo! New York

Great Game

New York: Reviewed

Thursday, December 9th, 2010 by Great Game

Extracts from the latest (8 December) reviews from New York…

The New York Times

‘As a study of the foreign presences that have occupied Afghanistan since the early 19th century, “The Great Game” is nothing less than a collective attempt to imagine into comprehensible existence a country that continues to baffle all outsiders who would rule, use or appropriate it. … The plays as a whole become an imaginative testament to an historic and repeated failure of the imagination.

‘…you always feel the creative energy and strenuous empathy that went into the making of “The Great Game,” which features a highly mutable and indefatigable cast of 14. … What “The Great Game” points out, admiringly and unflinchingly, is that when it comes to the history of occupied Afghanistan, even hindsight is irrevocably blurry.’ (more…)

Great Game

In 12 Plays, 150 Years of Afghan History

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 by Great Game

From The New York Times:

BY the time the seven-plus hours of ‘The Great Game: Afghanistan’ have concluded (over three successive nights or in one all-day weekend marathon), audiences will have received a vigorous crash course on a country that has gotten relatively little attention in the West even in the midst of a war that has taken more than 1,300 American lives.

Left, from left: Daniel Betts, Nabil Elouahabi and Shereen Martineau in ‘Black Tulips,’ by David Edgar; and Danny Rahim in Lee Blessing’s ‘Wood for the Fire.’


Great Game

Another great accolade

Thursday, November 18th, 2010 by Great Game

We recently received a truly heart-warming letter from a teacher who works in a small, rural high school in Wisconsin, in response to seeing The Great Game in Minneapolis.

Read on for extracts about how the The Great Game continues to resonate with US audiences. (more…)

Great Game

Tricycle shortlisted for Liberty Human Rights Awards 2010

Monday, November 15th, 2010 by Great Game

Liberty Human Rights Awards 2010 have just announced…

‘In honour of The Great Game and previous productions that have addressed human rights issues, we are delighted to announce that Nicolas Kent, Indhu Rubasingham and The Tricycle Theatre have been shortlisted to receive an award at this year’s Liberty Human Rights Awards.’

The Liberty Human Rights Awards aim to honour those individuals and organisations dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of others. Click here to find out more about previous winners, and keep up to date with the latest awards news.