THE PARLIAMENT IN AFGHANISTAN
THE IMPOSSIBLE WALK
- a big politics thriller in 2 parallel parts -
In December 2007 an e-mail from Kabul arrived at the Beckwerk headquarters in Copenhagen. Through a Norwegian cultural aid worker the National Theatre of Afghanistan had heard about the stage play "The Parliament".
In other words: the very play that was - back in January 2003 - the very overture of our parallel world history "The History of The Democracy". Since 2003 the play hadn't been staged, neither in Denmark no anywhere else in the world.
But now the National Theatre in Kabul wanted to stage "the Parliament" as the new democratic utopian vision of Afghanistan.
And so Das Beckwerk was invited to send a representative (and buy his ticket and pay his expenses) to the opening night in Kabul.
Comrade Nielsen - Das Beckwerks representative on the world stages - hadn't been seen since December 2006, when he and fellow agent Altheimer fled the Iranian secret polices into the mountains north of Tehran. Now Nielsen was appointed to step back into the part of actor in world history.
His mission was to walk from the mountains between Iran and Afghanistan down into Kabul and through the city to the National Theatre and straight into the final scene of the opening night of the Parliament carrying the Flag of the New (now renamed the Flag of Friendship (of diplomatic reasons)).
With this mission the Beckwerk parallel world history would finally come to an END, the both historically and formally and dramaturgical ideal END, as Nielsen after 5 years in the reality of big politics finally would retire into fiction.
This was the master plan.
But in reality the story was to be very different and tragic:
As our main coalition partners, the Americans, the employees of Das Beckwerk are men of action. Like the American also we do a lot, but are not always so perfectly prepared to do what we do: We do not always know exactly how the local circumstances are in the remote parts of the world where we send in our forces. We do not always speak the local languages, and do not always know the traditions, symbols, religions etc. of the specific place.
And so we thought that our Flag - a white flag with a circular hole in the centre - all over the world would be seen as a universal sign of peace.
But through Nielsen we soon realized that in Afghanistan the white flag - the tabula rasa - was the flag of the Taliban.
Nielsen's mission: dressed in suit and tie as a white man of the colonial era to walk such a flag through the streets of Kabul would eventually be ... a suicide mission.
The thrilling story is told in the documentary movie THE IMPOSSIBLE WALK, which will soon (or a bit later) arrive on the market, in your local cinema or on your TV-screen.
Until then you will have to content yourself with the still pictures on the following pages
the story as told by Nielsen in his two newspaper articles from Weekendavisen:
Verden er ikke på forhånd givet
and Hvid mands byrde
in his weblog nielseninafghanistan.blogspot.com
The 2008 PRE-HISTORY of THE PARLIAMENT IN AFGHANISTAN:
January 2003 on Das Beckwerk theatre in Copenhagen was the premiere on the play The Parliament, the story of a famous architect who draws his vision of a world parliament and, with the help of the People, tries to build it.
In Denmark the performance was a success, and the author of the play Claus Beck-Nielsen was (posthumous) awarded the notorious Reumert Prize as "Playwright of the Year 2003".
From the global perspective, the historic moment happened as one of the subordinate characters, "the People" alias Nielsen stepped out of the fiction to open the first real world parliament in known history. Soon after he made the most radical decision a theatre character can possible make: Nielsen left the theatre building and entered the public space. After a stop-over in an office container on Kongens Nytorv in the centre of Copenhagen, Nielsen went to Iraq to introduce the Democracy in the form of a portable metal container. The next destination was the US, and in late 2006 he and a colleague brought the box to Iran in an attempt to start a democratic revolution.
Meanwhile the original play, the Parliament, had lived a life of its own and was now ready for the international breakthrough: The story of the Architect who wants to raise and open a world parliament with a little help from the People had been discovered by the National Theatre in Kabul, Afghanistan.
In the encounter between the Parliament and the Afghan (theatre)people, the Parliament had gone through a constitutional revision: In the Danish version the story was staged as a comedy with a tragic end. But such a decadent vision was unbearable to the Afghan people. They forced Das Beckwerk to revise the end of the script and transform the defeat of the Architect to a bright hope for the democracy in Afghanistan.
20. February Das Beckwerk sent Nielsen as a representative of Das Beckwerk off to Afghanistan. In the last two weeks leading to the opening night Nielsen was assigned to intervene into the staging of The Parliament, and in the End - after 4 years of wander and stray on the world stages - find his way back into the fiction, and there define a new role for the minor European character in the world history of the Parliament.
THE FINAL LONG WALK UNDER THE FLAG OF THE NEW
But first of all Nielsen was assigned to stage his own way from the world stage and back into the theatre: In February 2003 Nielsen made his famous "long walk" from Das Beckwerk to the centre of Copenhagen carrying the white Flag of The Democracy. Meanwhile this flag had become "the Flag of the New", and now Nielsens mission was to carry the Flag from the outskirts of Kabul (aka the outskirts of world history) through the public space monitored by the world and its medias to the centre of Kabul and into the National Theatre. Like the walk through Denmark also this historic walk should be documented on video and still pictures.
Second Nielsen was assigned to - currently - report on the situation and the dramaturgy of the world stage in Afghanistan to the media back home in old Europe.
At the moment the situation in Afghanistan - both on stage at the National Theatre and in the streets of Kabul - was critical: Taleban had entered the capital and opened a new chapter by attacking an international hotel, killing foreigners, and - here and there - blowing up themselves and their immediate surroundings. Inside the theatre the director of the National Theatre had been fired, a new appointed, and the Ministry of Information and Culture was watching the rehearsals on the Parliament ready to censor, revise or close down the entire story. Nevertheless the Afghan (theatre)people was pursuing on trying, living, rehearsing as if there would still be a future and maybe even an opening night.
On his weblog Nielsen told the story in media res: