New York Theatre Workshop: The Dancing Boys of Bacha Bazi
For 22 years, New York Theatre Workshop has brought New York theater professionals to Dartmouth for a summer residency, where they present readings of new works-in-progress. Founded by Stephen Graham in 1979, New York Theatre Workshop seeks to “provoke, produce and cultivate the work of artists whose visions inspire and challenge all of us.” Its mission is to “explore perspectives on our collective history and respond to the events and institutions that shape our lives.” This summer, New York Theatre Workshop is presenting six new works-in-progress in Bentley Theater.
One of the works-in-progress is Bacha Bazi (Boy Play), a drama about an eponymous ancient Afghan tradition in which young boys dress in women’s clothing and dance for wealthy warlords at parties. Afterwards, the boys are prostituted to the highest bidder. The play follows the journey of Aaron, an American documentary filmmaker who travels to northern Afghanistan to shoot a documentary about bacha bazi (literally translated “boy play”). But when Aaron meets Hafiz, a young and beautiful bacha bi reesh (beardless boy), Aaron‘s journalism gets personal and the lines of east and west begin to blur. Winner of the Kennedy Center Paula Vogel Prize for Playwriting and Runner-up for the New Dramatist’s Princess Grace Award, Bacha Bazi (Boy Play) is a dangerous and sensual modern allegory that peeks under the proverbial veil of gender and sexuality in Afghanistan and examines America’s lust for altruism.
Tickets to the performance on Saturday, August 17 can be purchased on the Hopkins Center site.
The play will be preceded by a panel with playwright Gabriel Jason Dean and director Ed Sylvanus Iskandar. They will be joined by Dartmouth Associate Professor of Geography Jennifer Fluri and Afghanistan scholar Rachel Lehr, who will delve into the realities and misconceptions of a tradition that poses difficulties for the West’s altruistic gaze. The panel take will place tomorrow at 4:30 pm in Haldeman 041 and is free to the public. More information can be found here.