Music Television Afghanistan – Brixton Buzz

If you’re lucky you may be able to snatch up one of the last few tickets for Kabul Goes Pop: Music Television Afghanistan. And if you are one of the fortunate, you’ll enjoy the delightful and aspirational, but bittersweet success story of Farook and Samia.

Skillfully portrayed by Arian Nik and Shala Nyx, they are the youthful and pioneering presenters of Vox, Afghanistan’s first pop TV programme, packed full of western music, videos, chats, features and call-ins.

Set in the early 2000s, following the US-led invasion and the fall of the Taliban, the program quickly becomes an enormous success among Afghan youth, propelling the pair into popstardom fame and fortune beyond belief.

But the attitudes of the country’s elders and religious leaders have not changed. A few anonymous text messages and sinister calls to the programme, grow into a deluge of threats and hate. Kabul soon becomes a dangerous place for the duo, and Samia in particular, as a female becomes the primary receptacle.

Inspired by a true story, Kabul Goes Pop delivers a series of hard hitting questions, sugar-coated in the childlike charisma and playful nature of its characters, and their love of music. Crammed full of fun, song and references to Britney, Shakira and The Sugarbabes, the production never fails to fill the audience with smiles and laughter. And this is what makes the pill when delivered, so much more unpalatable and so much more sad.

The work discusses many topics including imperialism, betrayal and culture wars, but central is the war on women’s rights.

It is a play of our times. In Afghanistan the Taliban again execute a Gestapo-like assault on female freedom, but elsewhere: Roe v Wade is under attack, rape is used as a weapon of war in Ukraine, and the rape and murders of Sabina Nessa and Sarah Everard still haunt us .

So this is a valuable work that keeps the conversation alive and focused on the struggle. Thank goodness for Waleed Akhtar for writing such a hard hitting debut and for Anna Himali Howard and all her team for a fabulous production. It is so exciting to have a brand new creative center in the heart of the community, presenting new and challenging works. Theater has been absent in Brixton since the 1950s and now its back with a bang!

Photos by Wasi Daniju
Words by Phil Ross

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Brixton House, previously known as Ovalhouse Theater has a strong history of diverse and experimental theatre. It opened in February this year with the celebrated Mugabe, My Dad and Me by Tonderai Munyevu.

Kabul Goes Pop: Music Television Afghanistan runs until 29th May 2022 at Brixton House book now

Written by Waleed Akhtar
Directed by Anna Himali Howard

Arian Nik as Farook
Shala Nyx as Samia

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