The Great Game: Afghanistan is a festival exploring Afghan culture and history through a series of specially commissioned plays, readings, exhibitions and discussions.

The festival played at the Tricycle theatre last year and now returns, following a Laurence Olivier Award nomination. 

Part Three: Enduring Freedom 1996-2009, which plays in repertoire with the other two parts, brings the history of the country up to date with four new plays. They are:

Honey by Ben Ockrent

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

Ockrent is a playwright and screenwriter whose first play was The Pleasure Principle. 

The Night Is Darkest Before The Dawn by Abi Morgan

The widowed Huma is trying to reopen 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. 

Morgan’s plays include Skinned, Sleeping Around, Tiny Dynamite, Tender, Splendour and Fugee. Her television work includes Tsunami – The Aftermath, White Girl and Sex Traffic. 

On The Side Of The Angels by Richard Bean

Jackie and Graham are working for Direct Action World Poverty, east of Herat. They are thrown together to work on a new project about land rights. In trying to help and settle local disputes, the results are not what they expected, as Bollywood, women’s rights and tribal disputes create a toxic mix. 

Bean is the author of plays including The English Game, In The Club, Harvest, Toast, The God Botherers and England People Very Nice, which is currently playing at the National Theatre.

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. This is a searing insight into soldiers at war and what happens when they go home. 

Laurence Olivier Award-winning playwright Stephens is the author of Motortown, Port, One Minute, On The Shore Of The Wide World and Harper Regan.

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