Dushanbe Stories: Askarali Rajabov.

A series of interviews with Dushanbinci.

Askarali Rajabov, a professor of antiquity at the Academy of Sciences, is known for advocating historical claims to Tajik national identity. He recently consulted with the city government to determine a contentious list of Dushanbe’s 27 buildings of architectural, artistic and historical value which will be spared from destruction.When I walk in, he’s typing a report on his computer. He wears a newsboy cap. To talk to me, he turns around backward in his chair; he is partially blind and partially deaf; his eyes stare off to the side of my head and he shouts rather. 

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Dushanbe Stories: Qandil.

A series of interviews with Dushanbinci.

Qandil is a middle-aged man from a village near Hissor Fortress. He drives the 11km to and from work, as the property manager of Maternity Hospital No. 2, every day. During the last years of the Soviet Union, he worked as the chauffeur for the Zebo Music and Dance Ensemble.

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Ovozi umumi: Tajiks’ voices on the destruction of the Mayakovsky Theater

Ovozi umumi: Tajiks’ voices on the destruction of the Mayakovsky Theater

In the past week, Tajikistan has witnessed an upswell of popular dialogue — sparked in part by my publication of the Mayakovsky actors’ appeal to their audience — centered around the government’s plans to destroy the fabled Mayakovsky Theater and move its much-heralded company to Tajikistan Cinema, in the city’s southwest outskirts. This dialogue, which has largely taken place on social media, expresses just how fractured the country’s self-conception is.

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The actors’ appeal

The actors’ appeal

On Saturday, appealing to the audience after a showing of “Peri’s Love,” members of the Mayakovsky Theater company announced that its actors had signed letters of resignation as a protest against the historic theater’s demolition and the transfer of the company to a cinema in the city’s southern outskirts.

“We’re doing everything we can from our side, but we’re not being heard,” one actor said. “We’d like to ask you, dear audience, for your support on social media networks…if there are any journalists present here, please write about it.” On their way out, audience members, seeing that I was carrying a camera, approached me and begged me to publicize the theater’s plight.

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Update: Mayakovsky Theater Company to vacate premises by May 1

Update: Mayakovsky Theater Company to vacate premises by May 1

The Mayakovsky Theater company, subject of my piece “Vanishing Act,” has been informed it must vacate its historic premises by May 1, according to updates posted on Facebook by people connected to the theater. Based on interviews conducted with theater employees, the company’s relocation will likely result in its dissolution.

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“Vanishing Act” goes live

“Vanishing Act” goes live

The Tajik government wants to tear down the fabled Mayakovsky Theater. But it’s not going anywhere without a fight. Read the full story here.

 

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