• 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    The Spirit of Afghanistan: Final Thoughts on A Second Birth

    by Katrina Forsythe, dramaturg It’s been over nine months now since Professor Hollingshaus introduced me to A Second Birth and asked if I would be interested in working on it as the dramaturg. Has it only been that long? I loved the script from the start, and have continued to love it even more as it has changed over all this time. Ariel has been such an inspiration, and she is always so unstinting with her praise. There have been a lot of details I have had to hunt down in the process of bringing this play to life. For example: “How do you tie a head scarf?” “How does…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    A Playwright’s Perspective: Why Afghanistan?

    by Ariel Mitchell, playwright Believe it or not, when I started writing A Second Birth I didn’t think twice about setting it in Afghanistan. It wasn’t until I brought the script into my first workshop in Playwriting 1 and I saw the faces go slack in astonishment that I think it finally hit me. After we let out, my professor pulled me aside and said, “What on earth possessed you to undertake this story?” I shrugged. “You have some guts, Ariel” he said. Forty-eight drafts and two years later, the script has grown and changed but I still get the same question, “Why Afghanistan?” In October of 2010, I had…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    Of Football, Kites and Goats: Sports in Afghanistan

    by Katrina Forsythe, dramaturg Nasim and Yasir in A Second Birth play soccer with their friends—though they follow the European tradition of calling it football. While the Afghani people love their football (the national team was founded in 1922—just three years after they became an independent nation), there are other sports that are, perhaps, less familiar to an American audience. Kite Flying Thanks to the book The Kite Runner, we know that Afghani children like to fly kites. But this is not Mary Poppins’ kite flying. The traditional kite in Afghanistan is huge—four to six feet wide—and the string is enhanced with razors and broken glass. The point of the…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    Henna: An Afghani Bride Tradition

    by Katrina Forsythe, dramaturg In Afghanistan, when a girl gets married, her hands and feet are painted with henna. It symbolizes her transition from single girl to married woman, with all that implies. The process takes hours, and the effects last for weeks. This is an easy way to identify a recently married bride. The henna is made from ground up plant fibers soaked in water. The paste is applied like frosting on a cake through a hole the size of a needle’s eye. It goes on a dark brown, almost black, but after it dries—it’s best if you don’t touch anything for a few hours—the dark part flakes off…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    A Playwright’s Perspective: Creating a World

    by Ariel Mitchell, playwright I’m not a playwright who really pictures things. If you asked me about any of my characters, I would be able to tell you all about what they think, who they are, and how they sound, but ask me what their hair color is and I stare at you like you have three heads. I am one of those people who will read a book and picture the characters as faceless blobs until the movie comes out to tell me what they look like. It’s terrible, I know. Especially when it came to casting. I’m just glad I didn’t have to make the final decision. I…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    A Playwright’s Perspective: Tech Week

    by Ariel Mitchell, playwright Tech week. Each night it becomes more real. Every layer we add to the production (set, costumes, lights, music) helps me to see the world more clearly. I came into production photos last Wednesday and saw the costumes for the first time. The whole cast was in Afghani clothing. I was surprised. I don’t know why. I mean, it’s not like they were going to perform the play in street clothes! And I did set the piece in Afghanistan. I didn’t recognize any of the actors, but all it took was close to solidify them into the characters they had already become: Nasima, Yasir, Laila, Azadeh,…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    A Playwright’s Perspective: Lessons Learned

    by Ariel Mitchell, playwright When I sit down to write a play, it is usually to work out problems I am struggling with. I like to create characters to voice different sides of an issue to help me approach a dilemma in a logical way, and to solidify my opinions on it. So, my characters usually reflect parts of myself. Through this process, I begin to see the world more clearly, but I also discover many more questions. I have lived with A Second Birth and its characters for a long time and they have helped me discover many things about myself and the world. First, it has given me…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    A Playwright’s Perspective: Writing vs. Collaborating

    by Ariel Mitchell, playwright One of the greatest things about being a playwright is that after you have ‘finished’ writing you get to hand over your words to a team of people and watch them bring them to life. Many people ask, “How can you do that? Doesn’t it bother you? Do you have any say in the production process? How much?” A lot of writers find this unattractive because they want to spell out every thing from the way a character looks to what they do to the very thoughts that go through their mind as they live their lives. I have one answer for these people: write a…