Director and playwright Charles Randolph-Wright is the most recent high-profile supporter to embrace the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women. Fresh off his success as director of Broadway’s smash hit Motown: The Musical, Randolph-Wright encountered The Initiative during research for his next play. At the heart of Love in Afghanistan is the story of a young woman who was raised as a boy. Through The Initiative, Randolph-Wright met a few Afghan women whose parents had dressed them as boys in areas where there were no schools for girls; and through them, he learned of the impact The Initiative is having on their lives. Randolph-Wright repeatedly remarked on the young women’s determination both to get an education and to take their knowledge back to Afghanistan. Indeed, he rewrote the ending of play to reflect the deeply felt commitment to Afghanistan he observed among the The Initiative women.
At the end of its sold-out two-month run at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, a special performance of Love in Afghanistan was added to raise funds for The Initiative. After the show, students and supporters gathered to hear Randolph-Wright explain why the women he’d met had so deeply affected him and his writing. “My work in various media reflects my deep commitment to equality, which mainly has been focused on the US. But writing this play made me examine discrimination in so many other ways. Young girls who hide their gender to gain freedom intrigued me. Meeting young Afghan women expanded my understanding of the challenges faced by marginalized groups beyond our own borders.
“The US has been in Afghanistan for over a decade. They are a part of us and we are a part of them; that is an unbreakable bond that most of us do not recognize. I do now, and I am honored to join the IEAW in its efforts to help these women achieve true equality in their beloved country.”
Among those attending the performance and reception was American musical legend, Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown records and the composer of dozens of songs sung by Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, The Temptations, the Jackson Five and Stevie Wonder. Gordy stated that he felt “blessed” that he had had the chance to talk to The Initiative students, “so that I now have a very different understanding of Afghanistan.”
“I am honored to join The Initiative To Educate Afghan Women in its efforts to help these women achieve true equality in their beloved country.” – Charles Randoph-Wright