“The Great Game – Afghanistan” Teaches the Past and Present of That Nation

Two centuries ago, the term “The Great Game” referred to the rivalry between the British and Russian Empires. Today “The Great Game: Afghanistan” is the title of a remarkable play presented in three parts that delves into the culture, history and politics of that country from 1842 to the present. Conceived and staged last year at London’s Tricycle Theatre by director Nicolas Kent to rave reviews by the British press, it began a four-city U.S. tour in Washington at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Harman Center for the Arts. The team of 23 including 14 actors and six crew members tell the story of that nation in twelve short plays, four in each part. The script is being updated constantly. It includes an interview with General McChrystal just before his departure and Kent is currently awaiting one with General Petraeus.

Part One (1842-1930), Invasions and Independence, begins with the British Army’s worst defeat in history near Kabul and ends with King Amanullah and his family stuck in the snow while fleeing the capital.

Part Two (1979-1996), Communism, The Mujahideen & the Taliban, addresses the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the alliance between the CIA and ISI (Pakistan intelligence agency) that forced Russia to withdraw.

Part Three (1996-2010), Enduring Freedom, presents the complexities of the civil war, women’s rights, the onus of the opium crop and insight into the soldiers themselves. Each of the twelve plays stands alone and is a half-hour long. The three parts may be viewed in any order, but Kent believes that the best way to understand Afghanistan is to attend all three parts chronologically. Kent was chagrined when Britain’s enormous response following 9/11 shifted to Iraq after President Bush attacked that country, yet the war in Afghanistan rumbled on. Noting that the artistic community lost focus as well, he decided something must be done to bring attention back to Afghanistan. He first got in touch with Tom Stoppard who convinced him it had to be not just one evening. The next step was to commission twelve playwrights to address important events leading to the development of the country as it is today. Kent then went to Kabul to view the situation up close and got one interview with a woman six days before her home was sacked by a bomber. He came back knowing exactly what the writers needed to get started.

When he initiated the project, there had been only 50 British casualties. Now there are more than 300 and his country will send 150,000 more troops there in January. He sees a weariness in his country about the war, and yet most citizens are beginning to believe that pulling out now would leave the Afghan people in terrible shape at the mercy of the Taliban.

Upon learning Kent planned to bring “The Great Game” to several American cities, Michael Kahn, STC artistic director, became determined to schedule a stop in Washington. He knew about the political plays the Tricycle Theatre has presented in the past and knows many of the playwrights who contributed to the project.

In advance of the opening performance, the STC hosted a symposium to explain Afghanistan’s past and present beyond the headlines, the role of its women and future perspectives. Author Greg Mortenson gave a keynote address covering his experiences performing humanitarian missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “I hope people attend all three parts of ‘The Great Game’ to become informed about Afghanistan’s larger picture,” Kahn said. “This will enable them to have meaningful conversations with those who may not understand its background and options for the future.”

60th Birthday Presents For Your Special ‘Her’

Birthdays mark the end of one phase of an individual’s life and the beginning of the other. It is often said that behind every successful man, there is a woman. But men hardly get time to thank for whatever their ladies do for them. Birthdays and anniversaries are some of the occasions that give you a fair chance to praise the woman who silently supports your life. This article has some of the exclusive 60th birthday present ideas that would act as the best gift for her. This ‘her’ can be anyone special in your life. It can be your mom, grandmother, sis, friend or your wife.

The choice of 60th birthday gifts depend on many factors. The celebration of the events give you rare chances when you can show your love and express your emotions for the special ‘her’ in your life. Make her feel special by giving her something that can convey your message of care and affection. At the age of sixty, what else she can ask for other than than your care and love for her. To choose a best gift for her, you must consider the nature that she has. This is because for the one with serious nature, gag or humorous gifts would not work. Other gift categories in addition to humorous are homemade, sentimental, mementos, etc.

Some of the 60th birthday presents are as follows:

Jewelry – While discussing about the 60th birthday present for women, jewelry is an item that is too important to be missed. Whether a lady is 16year old or 60year old, she hardly keeps jewelry out of her expected list of gifts. Females love to adorn themselves at every stage of their life. You can observe your grandmother in this context who still seems reserve when it comes to her make up.
Surprise dinner party – To give the ladies precious time to spend with the family, you can arrange a surprise family dinner party as the best gift for her. It will be the day when she will get an opportunity to spend special moments with the members who remain too busy on other days.
Long Trip – Have you heard your grandmother, mom, sis, friend or your wife ever mentioning a place that she desperately desires to visit? Then, why are you reading the whole article, plan a long trip with her as well as the family to that particular place. Nothing else, other than this could serve to be an appropriate 60th birthday present.
Photo Frames and Albums – One of the most common items that strike one’s mind as the best gift for her are the photo frames. These are the best pieces that can help them preserve the special moments spent with their loved ones. In addition to this, you might also present an album with the photographs that mark the best phases of her life from her birth to marriage to children and then grandchildren.
Hobby – If your special ‘she’ likes to paint or click photos, you can easily buy a canvas and color pencils or a camera based on the activity that she would love doing in her spare times. Hobby is one more category based on which you can buy a perfect 60th birthday gift for her.

Presenting the American Flag Correctly – Meeting Planning 101

Are you a proud American? If so, do you know how to present an American flag in your meeting?

Let me tell you the correct way and also what not to do. Last week I attended a convention and got to the meeting room early. Since I coordinated meetings for many years, I always look at the setup in each room, especially the presentation of our flag.

Correct presentation – first, the American flag always goes stage right, as you are looking out from the stage or audience left as you are looking at the stage.

Example of a “Bad” presentation – when I arrived in the room, the flag was presented in the worst possible manner. It was stage left and was hung upside down.

Before I had a chance to correct it, a friend of mine got with another person and took the flag down, carefully folded it the correct way and laid it on a six foot table. Then he notified hotel staff that the flag needed to be rehung correctly on the flag pole and left the room.

However, when the hotel staff person walked into the room, she unfolded the flag, dragged it on the ground and started to attach it to the flag pole. Another proud American in the room said something to the employee about dragging the flag, so she stopped, placed the flag on a nearby six foot table and was starting to, again, attach it upside down. At that point, I stepped in and informed her the blue section with stars goes on the top and once done, the flag pole and flag goes stage right.

She stopped again, left the room and brought in another setup person to help her finish the job. Once the flag was properly on the pole, he placed it correctly on stage as I had informed them.

The next day I walked into the same room and the flag was on the wrong side again. Needless to say, I am a proud American and I moved it to the correct spot. To add insult to injury, I was informed that the facility charged $25.00 for use of the flag.

The American flag must be displayed in a specific manner, but it really is not too hard to at least get it on the flag pole correctly and place it on the correct side of the stage. So, I ask again, are you a proud American? If you are, please make sure that it is displayed correctly.

Previsualization – How it Works For Film, Animation and Presentations

Previsualization is a system of mapping out an artistic vision and script before the cameras roll – for decades, this process has been used to set up shots, share ideas, and generally get organized before the actual shoot. In the days before digital cameras, most shots were set up and practiced using foam shapes, low-tech handheld cameras, and paper or fabric “characters”. Then, locations would be mocked up using still photos or realistic drawings. Simulating action sequences could be tricky – often, these would be mapped out on Bristol Board storyboards, or acted out with small-scale models or puppets. Seeing a crew member’s arm or body in camera range (as he or she manipulated a crude model!) was par for the course back then!

Obviously, a lot of care, effort, and consternation went into previz in the “old” days. Today, there are new methods for achieving a perfect previsualization of your film, cartoon, or presentation – digital storyboard software is now on the market, and it offers many benefits to budding directors, animators, ad execs, and presenters. For example, in prior decades, it was tough to deal with the drama, expense, and delays of hiring an artist. Often, the final drawings would cost more than anticipated, arrive late, and even clash with the director’s vision for the project. Today, movie storyboard software comes with pre-loaded characters and backgrounds – with a simple click of the mouse, people and locations can be placed perfectly, and then, just as easily, be moved around or deleted.

Playing and experimenting are the essence of effective previz – it’s about changing things up to see what’s best. By utilizing film storyboard software, you can save different versions of your storyboards and then decide which one really works for you. It’s also very easy to add music, text, dialogue, and special effects. Within minutes, you can create a workable storyboard that maps out the frame by frame action of your film or presentation. Within hours, you can create a veritable masterpiece that you’ll be proud to show off to potential investors, corporate clients, or classmates or colleagues. Today’s programs have so many layers and so many features – how far you want to go is really up to you!

You’re probably already familiar with certain programs that you use to store and manipulate images and text. The designers of storyboard software have taken this into account, and designed programs that are compatible with popular programs. You can import and export files with ease. As well, you can even create Flash movies of your final storyboards, and then share them on the Internet. Compatibility with iPhones and other modern gadgets is also a possibility. Obviously, promoting your ideas (unless they’re top secret) is a breeze when everything is digital. Although you need to purchase this software, it tends to pay for itself over time. Paying artists and wasting time with old-fashioned previz methods can cost more than a computer program!

For cool online demos, Google digital storyboard software or movie storyboard software. You’ll be able to see how easy it will be to streamline your script and vision. The beauty of modern technology is the way it frees you up to be creative, have fun, and save money on your final shoot or presentation.