Kabul National Theatre (Kabul Nandari) in the 1970s

The Kabul National Theatre, or Kabul Nandari (in Dari), was destroyed after the arrival of the Mujahideens, presumably in the late 1980s. But before that, during the Communist regime under the administration of Dr Mohammad Najibullah (or Dr Najib, for short), the theatre was deemed to be a cultural mecca, according to the stage managers at Kabul Nandari in the French documentary by Alexandra Paraboschi, “Afghanistan: Reconstructing Through Theatre” (see link). Even foreign artists came to Kabul to perform in a sophisticated performance space that had mechanical capabilities on the ceiling that enabled the change of set, and raised or lowered the curtains, which was probably ahead of its time.

Below are some screenshots from the documentary of a film that survived the burning by the Taliban. It showed men and their wives in the audience, with many of the women in “miniskirts, backcombed hairburns, eyeliner” and men in dark two-piece Western suits and ties. According to the documentary, it was an effort to westernise the Afghan society in the 1960s.

Afghan Audiences in Kabul National Theatre in the 1970s (screenshot from film archive)

Afghan Audiences in Kabul National Theatre in the 1970s (screenshot from film archive)

Afghan Women's Dressing Style in Kabul at the National Theatre in the 1970s (screenshot from film archive)

Afghan Women’s Dressing Style in Kabul at the National Theatre in the 1970s (screenshot from film archive)

Afghan Audiences in Kabul at the National Theatre in the 1970s (screenshot from film archive)

Afghan Audiences in Kabul at the National Theatre in the 1970s (screenshot from film archive)

Afghan Women's Dressing Style in Kabul at the National Theatre in the 1970s (screenshot from film archive)

Afghan Women’s Dressing Style in Kabul at the National Theatre in the 1970s (screenshot from film archive)

Afghan Actress on Stage at the Kabul National Theatre in the 1970s (screenshot from film archive)

Afghan Actress on Stage at the Kabul National Theatre in the 1970s (screenshot from film archive)

Afghan Actresses on Stage at the Kabul National Theatre in the 1970s (screenshot from film archive)

Afghan Actresses on Stage at the Kabul National Theatre in the 1970s (screenshot from film archive)

They performed different types of plays, mainly classical theatre pieces including William Shakespeare, Samuel Beckett, and Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (more commonly known as  Moliere) at the Kabul University, as well as French-run high schools.

In the next blog, I will archive some of these 1970s and 1980s footages of Moliere.

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