This weekend, Good Chance Theatre (creators of The Jungle and The Walk with Amal) will launch Fly With Me, an immersive, multi-city kite-flying festival presented by Afghan artists, actors and sportspeople. Spread across 16 locations in the UK and Europe, including Manchester, Fly With Me celebrates the ancient Afghan craft of kite-flying in an aerial act of solidarity with the people of Afghanistan. The artform, alongside music, theatre and dance, were previously banned by the Taliban during their occupation of the country.
Fly With Me invites people from all backgrounds, regardless of race, nationality or religious beliefs, to come together and fly a kite – sending a message to the world to ‘Remember Afghanistan’. The kite-flying festival will take place across 11 cities in the UK and five European cities on August 20 including Brighton, Bradford, Dover, Folkestone, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Northamptonshire, Scunthorpe and Sheffield, as well as Berlin, Pas-de-Calais, Paris, Copenhagen and Barcelona.
The cultural significance of kites and Afghanistan’s complex history will form part of the festival’s storytelling, alongside music, poetry and dance from Afghan artists and other community groups. In kite making workshops across Europe and the UK, Afghan storytellers will bring to life the story of Zaki, a 12-year-old boy in Kabul who, in keeping with 800-year-old traditions, loves to fly kites each autumn.
Master kite-maker, Afghan refugee based in the UK, & Fly With Me Co-Creator Sanjar Qiam, said: “Kite flying is one of the world’s earliest art forms – there are depictions of kites in cave paintings in Indonesia which are 40,000 years old. In Afghanistan, kites occupy a unique space between national art form and national sport. They are a universal symbol of expression, skill and cultural pride. Fly With Me is an act of solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and an opportunity for all of us to come together and feel between our fingers the strings that connect us to this incredible country, its culture and its people.”
Manchester International Festival, in partnership with HOME and Community Arts North West are leading the Manchester event which will take place at Platt Fields Park in Fallowfield. The event will consist of two kite-making workshops between 11am and 1pm at Platt Hall and Holy Trinity Platt Church with a focus on engaging communities in the local area. Kites created by other Afghan workshop groups from around Manchester, and a few examples of beautiful professional kites, will also be displayed around the site.
From 1.30pm kite-maker participants and the general public will be invited to meet in front of Platt Hall in the North East corner of the park with their kites, before processing around the park. The procession may be kicked off with a poetry reading by an Afghan poet and will be accompanied by traditional music and dance. At the end point of the procession, the audience will gather to watch a kite demonstration on the open grass area where the cricket pitch is located, before joining in the kite flying themselves.
Find out more about Fly With Me here.