War games to play

PUBLISHED: 16:56 04 May 2009 | UPDATED: 13:33 24 August 2010

by Will Davies A monumental festival exploring Afghan culture and history launches this week at the Tricycle. Fifteen plays, a ten day film programme, concerts, exhibitions, discussions, talks and readings will dominate London s cultural

by Will Davies

A monumental festival exploring Afghan culture and history launches this week at the Tricycle.

Fifteen plays, a ten day film programme, concerts, exhibitions, discussions, talks and readings will dominate London's cultural calendar over the next six weeks.

Afghanistan is likely to be the most important focus of British, European and American foreign policy for the rest of this decade, and for many years to come.

Through these plays, exhibitions and films it is hoped that audiences will more fully understand how this policy has evolved; and through debate and discussion lessons from the past can be used to better inform action for the future.

The Great Game was a term used for the strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia.

The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running from the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 a second less intensive phase followed.

The term The Great Game was introduced into mainstream consciousness by British novelist Rudyard Kipling in his novel 'Kim' in 1901.

Divided into three parts, The Great Game: Afghanistan, features world premieres of Afghan plays by many of theatre's most prestigious talents.


Bugles at the gates of Jalalabad by Stephen Jeffreys

In January 1842 a contingent of British soldiers, 16000 strong, retreated from Kabul. Only a few stragglers were left alive in the British Army's worst defeat in history. The General's wife, Lady Sale, documents the battles in the Hindu Kush; whilst four buglers sound the advance at the gates of Jalalabad as a signal to any survivors.

Durand's Line by Ron Hutchinson

Amir Abdul Rahman has kept the Indian Foreign Secretary, Sir Mortimer Durand, cooped up in Kabul for weeks. Sir Mortimer is desperate to negotiate the division of Waziristan to avenge the humiliation of his father's name. Rahman fights to protect his country's borders from Imperialist map-making.

Campaign by Amit Gupta

Harry Hawk MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary needs to find a new approach to policy in Afghanistan. Hawk summons the expert, Professor Khan to advise on the potential success of the 'supplementary plan' conceived by the civil service. While

Hawk hopes that history can repeat itself, Khan is not convinced that it will.

Now Is The Time by Joy Wilkinson

King Amanullah, his wife Soraya and his father-in-law, Tarzi are fleeing the capital. Their car is marooned in the snow, while Pashtun tribes and Tajik forces march towards Kabul. Will the Soviet Union help? Will the British interfere?


Black Tulips by David Edgar

Christmas 1987. A super-power invaded Afghanistan eight years ago. Its troops were sent to combat backwardness and banditry, to defend women's rights, to build hospitals and schools. But it didn't work out quite like that.

Blood & Gifts by J T Rogers

Two Afghans have risked their lives crossing the Pakistan/Afghanistan border to meet with two Americans in a safehouse. The aim is to negotiate arms, but the Americans' offer of Enfield rifles, radio equipment and medical supplies is considered by the Afghans insufficient to repel the Russians.

Miniskirts Of Kabul by David Greig

The Taliban are closing in on Kabul: shells and rockets are exploding around the capital. A woman is interviewing President Najibullah, who has sought refuge in the UN compound. He talks about fashion, communism, torture and whisky, but time is running out...

The Lion Of Kabul by Colin Teevan

Two Afghan aid workers disappear while distributing rice. Rabia, their UN Director of Operations, is determined to discover what has happened to them. The problem is her organisation does not recognise the Taliban, and the Taliban does not recognise her.


Honey by Ben Ockrent

While civil war rages, a lone CIA agent realises the dangers of American disengagement. He's found an 'in' to persuade the Lion of Panjshir to help them get back into the game. But with the Taliban closing in on Kabul, will it be enough?

The Night Is Darkest Before Dawn by Abi Morgan

The widowed Huma is trying to re-open her husband's school following the American bombing and 'liberation' of Afghanistan; however she needs to persuade six more girls to attend. But Behrukh's father is more concerned with his opium crop, and who will harvest it.

On The Side Of The Angels by Richard Bean

Jackie and Graham are thrown together to try and help settle local disputes, the results are not what they expected, as Bollywood, women's rights and tribal disputes create a toxic mix.

Canopy Of Stars by Simon Stephens

In a bunker guarding the Kajaki Dam, two soldiers talk of chips and gravy, football, women and whether the British should start to negotiate with the Taliban insurgents.

The Great Game: Afghanistan runs until June 14 at the Tricycle, 269 Kilburn High Road.

Box office 020 7328 1000.

For more information or to see a schedule for the festival visit

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