The Afghan Road Show

Globe-Trotting Declan Donnellan Directs Tony Kushner's 'Homebody/Kabul'

In addition to his talent for working with actors from different cultures and acting traditions, one of Donnellan's great directing strengths is infusing well-worn texts with a sense of improvisation and immediacy, as New York audiences who caught his BAM productions of As You Like It and The Duchess of Malfi will attest. Describing his approach to a scene set at the Grave of Cain in Homebody/

Donnellan: Homebody/Kabul "is about the Taliban in the same way Angels was about AIDS."
Photograph by Sylvia Plachy
Donnellan: Homebody/Kabul "is about the Taliban in the same way Angels was about AIDS."

Kabul, Donnellan illustrates another hallmark: respect for the mysteries of a multi-layered text. "The young woman finds herself at this extraordinary site in Kabul, which is said to be the place where the biblical Cain was buried. The first crime—a brother's murder. This is where she thinks her mother is going to meet her. The different onion layers of meaning in that moment are wonderful and not to be pinned down. As far as I am an artist, it's for me to draw a frame around things and bring the audience's attention to the ambiguity and ambivalence of what lies within it. Not to make everything clear, but to make it clearly ambiguous. There is an honor in that."

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