Kaveh Ayreek is an award-winning actor, theatre director, and writer from Afghanistan who received his theatre and arts education in Iran. Ayreek began performing in 2003 and since then his work has explored a variety of issues, including human rights, gender equality, and fundamentalism, with mime and shadow puppetry being central to his art.
Kaveh Ayreek has produced several award-winning short films, including ‘You do not belong to this land’, a film adaptation of a story by writer Asef Soltanzadeh, won the ‘Best Short Film’ category at the Afghan Human Film Festival in 2011. Ayreek’s ‘Proposal’ film, highlighting the attitudes of ordinary people towards the police and security in Afghanistan, won the ‘Best Short Film’ award in the Kabul Police Film Festival in 2012. Kaveh has also made films focusing on a variety of taboo topics in Afghanistan, including the lived experiences of transgender people in the country, and has worked on a variety of projects with other young filmmakers.
The mime and shadow puppetry aspects of Ayreek’s work have played a central role in his career and in Kabul’s civic society. He has performed his works ‘Joker’ (2010), ‘Proverb’ (2010), ‘Suicide’ (2010) in the streets and schools of Kabul and established the first pantomime theatre in Afghanistan. As a member of the Hazara ethnic group, Kaveh Ayreek has consistently highlighted the persecution of Hazara people, for which he received regular threats.
Ayreek held numerous workshops and training sessions for children, women, and marginalised members of Afghan society. Collaborating with UNESCO and Afghanistan’s National Programme for Culture and Creative Economy, Kaveh held a theatre workshop for internally displaced teenage boys in Herat in 2017. In the same year, Ayreek partnered with the UN on his shadow puppetry play ‘Rukshana’, exploring women’s rights in Afghanistan.
Due to the nature and themes of his work, Kaveh Ayreek and his wife Fatima, also a theatre director with whom he collaborates, faced threats, persecution, and attacks. Days before the Taliban takeover of Kabul in August 2021, the pair fled Afghanistan and arrived in Bergen, Norway, where Kaveh is one of the current ICORN residents.
Since arriving in Norway, Kaveh Ayreek has continued his work in theatre and performance arts, engaging local, national, and international communities. He took part Live Action International Performance Art Festival in September 2022, and his play 'The Empty Suitcase' is being staged in Paris in 2023.
For more information on Kaveh Ayreek’s work, follow his Instagram.