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Published: Thursday, 11/3/2005

Afghanistan is the setting for tense family drama

BY NANCIANN CHERRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Brian Hillard plays a mullah and Elif Erturk is the daughter of
a woman who disappears in Afghanistan in the University of
Toledo s production of Homebody/Kabul. Brian Hillard plays a mullah and Elif Erturk is the daughter of a woman who disappears in Afghanistan in the University of Toledo s production of Homebody/Kabul.
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In Homebody/Kabul, a British woman falls under the spell of old Afghanistan travel guides and travels to that isolated country, where she disappears. Her distraught husband and daughter set off to find her and become swept up in the culture shock of the Taliban.

Plays about Afghanistan shouldn t be surprising; that country has been in the news a lot since 2001. What s surprising is that Tony Kushner finished writing the play, which he had been working on more than four years, in the winter of 2000. That s more than half a year before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon brought Afghanistan into just about every American s focus.

It s really amazing how Kushner has his finger on the pulse of events, Elysa Marden says. She is directing Homebody/Kabul, which opens tomorrow, for the University of Toledo s Department of Theatre and Film.

Kushner won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his Angels in America, which put a spotlight on the AIDS epidemic and the Reagan era. Homebody/Kabul also deals with social and political chaos, this time within Afghanistan and in its relationship to the West.

Marden, artistic director of the WorkShop Theater Company in New York City, said she was invited to UT to direct Homebody/Kabul by Sue Ott Rowlands, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The pair met at an international directors symposium in 2002, and Ott Rowlands contacted her last summer with the invitation.

Ott Rowlands stars in Homebody/Kabul as the British housewife who becomes obsessed with Afghanistan. Benjamin Pryor, assistant professor and director of UT s Law & Social Thought program, plays her husband, and UT student Elif Erturk is her daughter.

Others in the cast include UT students Marty Coleman, Pete Cross, Brian Hillard, Ben Hudik, Katie Rediger, and Matt Seiser. Tony Horne, an assistant professor of theater at Bowling Green State University, and UT student Ernest Green share the role of Dr. Qari Shah.

The play is geared to older teens and adults.

The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film presents Homebody/Kabul by Tony Kushner tomorrow through Nov. 20 in the Center for Performing Arts. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $13 for the general public, $11 for seniors, UT employees and alumni, and $9 for students. Information: 419-530-2375.

• Dark of the Moon, a fantasy-folk tale based on the folk song Barbara Allen, is scheduled at 8 p.m. today through Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in McBride Auditorium at BGSU Firelands in Huron, Ohio.

The play uses hymns, chants, dances, and folklore to tell the tale of John the Witch Boy, who wants to become human so that he may wed the beautiful Barbara Allen. Conjur Woman agrees to grant him mortality if the maiden can stay faithful for one year.

Jann Glann, assistant professor of humanities, directs a cast of 33 students and community performers in the presentation of Firelands College Theatre. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and Firelands faculty, $5 for children and students, and $4 for Firelands students. Information: 419-372-0747 or 419-433-5560, ext. 20747.

• Siena Heights University presents A Lesson Before Dying at 8 p.m. today through Saturday in Francoeur Theatre in the Performing Arts Center, 1247 East Siena Heights Dr., Adrian. Douglas Miller, a professor of theater, directs the drama, based on Ernest J. Gaines novel about racism and injustice in a small Louisiana community in the 1940s. Tickets are $7 for the public and $5 for Siena Heights employees, senior citizens, and students. Information: 517-264-7890.

• Curious George, based on the classic books by H.A. Rey, is scheduled at 10 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Franciscan Theatre & Conference Center of Lourdes College, 6842 Convent Blvd., Sylvania. Part of the center s 21st Theater Vision season of performances for students, the tale about the little monkey who escapes from a zoo and searches for a real home is geared to pupils in kindergarten through grade 2. Although the series is aimed at school field trips, the public is welcome to attend if space is available. Tickets are $7 for the earlier performance, $5.50 for the later one. Information: 419-824-3986.

Contact Nanciann Cherry at: ncherry@theblade.com or 419-724-6130.



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