The Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB)

Celebrating Our Twentieth Year!


Afghan Voices

a presentation by Lia Gladstone

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

at the Brecht Forum
451 West Street (West Side Highway, at Bank Street,
one block north of West 11 Street)
New York City

Afghan Voices is a multi-media presentation about the experience of
teaching, traveling and working with a human rights group doing theater in
Afghanistan. It includes excerpts from the writing of Afghan students:
about street children (there are 60,00 in Kabul) and government corruption
in the offices where many of them work. Young women write about the
novelty of getting a driver's license. Anna Deveare Smith's "Fires in the
Mirror" inspires students to write their own monologues about the
characters of Kabul.

Afghan Voices is intended to be an alternative to information gleaned from
embedded journalists who travel in armored vehicles with armed guards,
reporters in-country for a couple of weeks, maybe a month off and on,
reporting on the devastation of thirty years of war on people in
thirty-second sound bites.

The students and others I worked with for over a year are some of the best
sources on the long-term political effects of this devastation: those who
must commute for hours to get to school because all accessible real estate
is for westerners; students who must bribe their teachers at Afghan
universities to get a grade because the professors aren't paid a living
wage; judges who openly admit they rule in favor of the person offering
the largest bribe because they don't get paid enough. Students laugh when
they are told by the administration that politics and religion are off
limits. They protest and write about the Sharia law signed by Karzai,
which shocked the world. These are some of the stories you will hear in
Afghan Voices. This is an opportunity to hear what young Afghans, many
likely to be the country's future leaders, are thinking and writing.

Lia Gladstone spent a year in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2010, where she
worked with everyday people who have been impacted by war and occupation
to document their lives and give them an opportunity to tell their stories
in their own voice.

Admission–sliding scale: $6/$10/$15

Reserve online at

"I believe that all the truly revolutionary theatrical groups should
transfer to the people the means of production in the theater so that the
people themselves may utilize them. The theater is a weapon, and it is the
people who should wield it." –Augusto Boal (1931-2009), founder of
the Theater of the Oppressed

Other Upcoming TOPLAB Events:

Saturday, December 11 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Education for Liberation

A celebration of the Paulo Freire-based popular education programming
which has been regularly presented at the Brecht Forum since the early
1990s. A collaborative event bringing together TOPLAB and other popular

Admission–sliding scale: $10/$15/$25

Reserve online at


Sunday, December 12 from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm

The Image of Transition from the Real to the Ideal

a one-day workshop in Image Theater

facilitated by Marie-Claire Picher

No prior theater experience is necessary to participate in this workshop.
If you would like to enroll please write to TOPLAB at to
let us know you will be coming.

Tuition–sliding scale: $45-$95

Register online at


Tuesday, December 14 at 7:30 pm

Two Lives in the Theater: Peter Schumann and Judith Malina in Conversation

hosted, with additional comments, by Marie-Claire Picher

Two legendary theater practitioners, Peter Schumann, founder of the
Bread and Puppet Theater, and Judith Malina, co-founder of The Living
Theatre, will have a freewheeling conversation about theater, art,
politics, culture, changing the world, and any other topics they might
come upon during this evening of artful wandering.

Admission–sliding scale: $6/$10/$15

Reserve online at

"We must emphasize: What Brecht does not want is that the spectators
continue to leave their brains with their hats upon entering the
theater, as do bourgeois spectators." –Augusto Boal