The Taliban Don’t Like My Knickers is a stylized two-hander play inspired by the novel In The Hands of the Taliban. Set in Afghanistan, the play is loosely based on the remarkable accounts of Yvonne Ridley–a British journalist captured by the Taliban in 2001. While loosely based on Yvonne Ridley’s remarkable accounts during her captivity, The Taliban Don’t Like My Knickers also questions universal metaphors of home and prison, freedom and sacrifice, and the cost/reward of our convictions. Our protagonist must use her wit and even her sense of humor to survive the Taliban and “get the story.” The sacrifice of which is great–she may never see her 8 year old daughter again. What is it that gives people the strength to live by their decisions? Perhaps it is it the pursuit of the truth or at least the desire to know oneself and one’s maker better? The Taliban Don’t Like My Knickers is a devised play using projected found footage taken from Afghan feature films and various TV interviews with Yvonne Ridley to create an abstract subtext.

Thanks to the support of POET and private funding from Tom Berend, DYSPLA was able to take The Taliban Don’t Like My Knickers–an original play–to the Toronto Fringe Festival.  The Taliban Don’t Like My Knickers was devised and developed in 8 workshops and is our pilot into the WHITEBOX process.

The Taliban Don’t Like My Knickers is an original idea by Greg Ward, Made by DYSPLA, directed by bielecki&bielecka,executively produced by Tom Berend, starring Yaron Shavit and Sarah Savage. It was part of the 2013 Toronto Fringe Festival, and played at the Tarragon Extra Space July 3-14, 2013.


Meet The Cast

Yaron Shavit was born in Israel and grew up in the United States. When he was 18 he did his mandatory 3 year service in the Israeli army (Navy). He is a graduate of both Nissan Nativ Acting Studio (Israel’s leading theatre school) and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. His professional theatre experience includes Joel (Nineveh), Don John (Much Ado About Nothing), Scanlon (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) F.F. Charnick (Charles Marowitz’s Stage Fright), Guillermo/Roberto/Tomas (CV of Aurora Ortiz) and Dotan in the original musical If I Could Rewrite the World. Film Credits include Born Of WarGoldfish, and Shalom Kabul.

Sarah Savage trained at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in the UK. She has since worked in Film, TV and theatre. Recent credits include the BBC Drama Casualty where her gritty story line was nominated for a Radio Times award and Story of Our Time which was short-listed in a short film category at the Sundance Film Festival.

This two-hander is based loosely on the time that British journalist Yvonne Ridley spent captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The theatrical techniques are very Brechtian – using a sparse set, audience participation to break the fourth wall, and projections behind the actors on a loop. The projections at times were stark contrasts to the scene, as with a naked woman running on a beach, and at other times were directly related, when a woman is told to ‘cover her feet’ over and over again. It had the effect of feeling obsessive, as though someone were going over that thought over and over again in their mind. The play also involved the actors using a kind of third person narrative to describe their actions, which to me underlined a sense of alienation of the characters from themselves, in both prisoner and guard roles, but also served as a kind of Brechtian element to remind our audience that it’s only a play, and the actors are merely playing their parts. Though, despite it being a production bent on reminding the audience that it is not reality, the acting had a remarkable amount of emotional depth, grabbing my attention for the entire 50 minutes. I’m not always a fan of Brechtian productions but in this particular case I think that the style fit the content, since we learn at the end that Ridley, after she was let go by the Taliban, returned to Britain and two years later converted to Islam. The audience is treated to a roll of interview and speech clips, where she repeats the same lines over and over, clearly having memorized a script for audiences and media. If the intention was to unsettle, then it was a success: the effect is decidedly creepy, and I left wondering how someone could have changed her belief system so radically. Originally published in The Charlebois Post on July 7, 2013

Lisa McKeown

Reviewer, The Charlebois Post