Notably, the eight-member half-American, half-Afghani cast includes Afghanistan's most famous actress, Anisa Wahab, who grew up in happier times on camera as a child star and has continued to act despite its still dangerous implications for women.
Communicating partly with some mutual English, and largely in terms of both distinct and shared physical vocabularies, the artists developed what became Mirror in a nonlinear, highly abstract way, according to Bond Street artistic director Joanna Sherman, who codirected it with Exile's Mahmoud Shah Salimi. That in no way diminishes its rootedness or poignancy.
"We went around the countryside and interviewed different people, and videotaped them as they would allow," Sherman explained by phone from New York. "Our challenge was to portray these terrible stories in a way that was not gruesome or impossible to watch. We used our physical techniques in a way that it would be watchable and compelling but not exactly 'realistic.'"
Since Mirror's premiere at the second Kabul Theatre Festival in 2005, much has happened in the U.S. and Afghanistan, prompting a small but significant revision, a new final scene, according to Sherman. "We do leave on a thought of hope," she stressed. "But [we're] doing some interviewing again and getting some additional video. We'll see what happens."
SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL
May 20-31, various venues