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Flying a kite to send a message: Fly With Me by Good Chance Theatre

A group of people in a community hall making kites together is radical enough in the best way.

Fly With Me

On Saturday 20 August, a year after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, communities across the world participated in Fly With Me: a radical, simple, beautiful act of solidarity presented by Good Chance Theatre.

Good Chance, a renowned international theatre company, are perhaps most recognisable for The Walk: an award-winning project featuring the travelling 3.5-metre-tall puppet of a ten-year-old refugee, Little Amal, and the locally organised festivals of welcome that greet her.

Fly With Me is familiar in tone: open to all, led by local organisers, and boldly confronting the consequences of terror with art, hope, and collectivism.

This time, instead of puppets, kites.

The bones of the event consisted of a community kite-making workshop and a chance to fly the kites outdoors together.

A handout book (beautifully illustrated by Alicia Malia) at the kite-making workshop detailed instructions of how to create an Afghan Kite; but most present in the pages are story and history.

The pages hand us over to Zaki, who is twelve years old and lives in Kabul. Zaki describes his kite-flying season experiences, bonding with his siblings throughout the creation of the perfect array of kites. Zaki’s main role in this process: the collection of old lightbulbs off the streets.

Fly With Me

Once ground into pieces and mixed with half-boiled rice, the newly created shard paste is applied to kite strings to make them battle-ready.

“Kite flying season is also kite fighting season” the boy in the booklet informs us. Flyers compete to be the last kite in the sky (and consequently crowned the “Shartee Maidan”) using strong, sharp strings to cut and pull at other lines. The fallen kites are caught and taken as trophies by the youngest children. These kites are gleeful competition, togetherness through strife, care and collaboration (even when in combat); the microcosmic intergenerationality of siblinghood is palpable.

Flying a kite is a remarkable and therapeutic activity. The wind at your back as you look to the sky, peacefully focused on keeping your kite afloat. It has all the feeling of meditation.

“Kites have been flown across Afghanistan for over 800 years” Zaki tells us, and it’s easy to see why.

Zaki doesn’t tell us that the Taliban have previously banned kite flying, they claim it distracts the population from Sharia. Zaki tells us that his younger sister wants to fly combat kites and become a Shartee Maidan one day. Zaki doesn’t tell us that women and girls are being brutalised by tyrannical hostile occupations that masquerade as Islam. Zaki tells us he misses his older brother. We don’t need Zaki to tell us why.

Fly With Me

Kites are also used to send messages, the booklet informs us. Poems are attached and flown up to lovers’ roofs and balconies. This breadth feels key to the messaging of Fly With Me: kites, ostensibly created for combat, delivering sweet notes between giggling teenage couples. Fly With Me isn’t a call to arms. It is a message.

Thousands of people across the globe partook in an ancient tradition in defiance of a group that seeks to eradicate it. Colourful tissue paper kites across the world’s skies. And among the busy technicolour display, were occasional, solemn kites flown by parents and carers that assertively bore the black, red, and green of the true flag of Afghanistan.

“Welcome and hope” are the values Good Chance puts front and centre. Messages of “Remember Afghanistan” and “equal and fair treatment [for] all people seeking asylum” are delivered in prose and practice alike.

Elsewhere in the world, kites were accompanied by larger events that featured dance, music, and poetry. Sheffield didn’t need extra festivities. A group of people in a community hall making kites together is radical enough in the best way. We can do better alongside our communities, both immediate and international; Fly With Me boldly creates space to do both at once.

The togetherness curated by Good Chance is beautiful and (more than ever) vital, let’s be motivated to not allow it to be unique.

Learn more

Find out more about the amazing work that Good Chance do here: https://www.goodchance.org.uk/

Follow grassroots organisers the Afghan Women’s Movement for Justice here: https://twitter.com/afghanwome...

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