Aref Yaqubi, Afghan Photographer and Journalist

       Aref Yaqubi, Afghan Photographer and Journalist

 

The world has been intrigued by Afghanistan in the past 34 years and out of that have come out books, movie, TV shows and theatrical productions. 

As a cultural consultant, Humaira brings cultural literacy to film and theatre productions for authentic portrayal of Afghan people, their customs and Dari language for an enriched audience experience. 

She works closely with playwrights, authors, screenwriters, directors, costume designers, set designers, props crew, and of course actors to achieve authenticity. Humaira is a creative educator with a keen eye to get the best performance out of people she works with. 
 

I called on Humaira to serve as a cultural consultant on the set of the stage production of my novel, “The Kite Runner”, and she graciously accepted. Humaira was indispensable to the production, providing important insights on a wide array of issues, including language, local customs, clothing, food, and a number of subtle cultural nuances. I know that the production benefited greatly from her assistance and the sense of credibility and authenticity that her consultation brought to the play. 

She is very well spoken in Farsi and has a firm grasp of the various shades of local Afghan culture. Humaira is a driven, intelligent, and passionate person, and it has been a blessing to be her friend and to work alongside her
— Khaled Hosseini, Author, The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, And The Mountains Echoed

Praise for Humaira’s work


"Humaira  helped me not only with complicated transliteration of the Dari language in the play, but also with richly specifying interactions between my Afghan and American characters. Her knowledge of Afghanistan both personally and scholarly is immense. Since Humaira is a writer herself, she's a great editor and dramaturge and she gives feedback in a respectful and productive way, putting the writer at the center. BOY PLAY is much fuller and more authentic now. It was an honor to work with her and I hope we will cross paths again soon."

~ Gabriel Jason Dean - Playwright, Author, Director

Humaira is a writer herself and understands the artistic process and the sensitivities inherent in it. She is comfortable in a rehearsal room and respectful of the actors’ and director’s process; she intervenes only when asked or when she feels a “cringe” moment might happen in which something completely culturally inappropriate is about to be portrayed! We enjoyed her enormously and felt extremely grateful to her for the wisdom, passion and truth she brought to into the rehearsal room. I am absolutely convinced that a big part of the credit for the (A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS) production’s enormous success, particularly with audiences from the Middle East, is due to what we learned from Humaira and the authenticity, which she helped us achieve in the work.
— Carey Perloff, Artistic Director of American Conservatory Theater iin San Francisco

 

"Humaira had a fantastic ability to share her knowledge of the Afghan culture, history and way of life with the large cast (17 actors) in a relaxed and easy fashion. Her historical and cultural knowledge, as well as her deep understanding of the region and its geo-political complexities were invaluable to the process of directing this play. It helped on a dramaturgical and on a design level (with costumes and sets) as well as with certain acting and staging choices."

~ Lucie Tiberghien - Director, Blood and Gifts

Actors Theater Louisville, Cast of The Kite Runner Play

Actors Theater Louisville, Cast of The Kite Runner Play

San Jose Repertory Theatre, Cast of the Kit Runner Play

San Jose Repertory Theatre, Cast of the Kit Runner Play

 

"Humaira is one of a kind. She's knowledgeable, insightful, and proud to share her history and culture. with projects that portray Afghanistan. But even more important - she is just cool, and has a real understanding of what's at stake for the artist. She helps artists and creative teams not just get all things “Afghan” but raises their conscience, while also honoring the artistic process. 

I first met her working on "Blood and Gifts" at La Jolla Playhouse and have since called upon her for anything I work on that has to do with Afghanistan. Recently she coached me, as well as another actor, in the Robin Williams Comedy, "Merry Friggin Xmas" where I was required to do my entire role in Dari. Not only did she help me nail the language and accent authentically, she helped shape the role to my personal specifics, helping me find new and authentic ways of saying jokes and asides - basically all the fun details!

We had a blast together. Naturally, she has since become a friend. Regarding Afghanistan, I can't imagine better resource - in life, a cooler new friend."

~ Amir Arison - Actor, The Blacklist, Homeland, Girls and more

Humaira has a tremendous insight and understanding of the intricacies of the various stages involved in both the creative and the production process. She fitted in seamlessly with the artistic team, offering her invaluable knowledge when needed. She was called upon by every member of creative and production team at one point or another including; myself the Playwright; the director; the costume and set designers; and the actors. She was able to offer each of us the cultural authenticity that we both needed and desired to ensure that the overall production would have that ring of truth that is so essential when you are depicting a world other than you own.

Humaira was also asked to speak to Donors, which she did with enthusiasm and to organize, facilitate and host community events. The latter brought members of the Afghan community directly into contact with our creative team and with the production itself. It was wonderful to meet with and speak to people for whom the events of A Thousand Splendid Suns were all too familiar. Our interaction with this community both enhanced and enriched our understanding of the subject matter we were dealing with and gave a fictional story a very realistic aspect. Humaira worked hard to make this community feel accepted and wanted and in turn, their faith and trust in her was made obvious by the sheer number of people who attended the events.
— Ursual Rani Sarma, Playwright

 

"Humaira was able to bring a great deal of depth and detail to our production while fitting seamlessly into our production process. I would go so far as to say her work was indispensable."

                 ~ Marc Masterson - Artistic Director, South Coast Repertory 

 

"We were thankful to Humaira for dedication and help throughout the entire production of A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS at A.C.T. We could not have had such a deep and rich connection with the Afghan community without Humaira. It was a joy to work with her."

                ~ Elizabeth Brodersen, Director of Education & Community Programs A.C.T., San Francisco


 

Cultural Consulting Credits

 

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS  ~  American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco ~ World Premier and Theatre Calgary

KITE RUNNER  ~  San Jose Repertory ~  Arizona Theatre Company  ~  Actor’s Theatre Louisville  ~ Cleveland Playhouse ~ Wyndham's Theatre, West End-London

MOST DANGEROUS HIGHWAY IN THE WORLD ~ Golden Thread Productions, San Francisco

HEARTLAND ~ Gabriel Jason Dean, Playwright  ~ Script transliteration, dialect editing and cultural input

BLOOD AND GIFTS  ~  La Jolla Playhouse  

LOVE IN AFGHANISTAN  ~  Arena Stage

BOY PLAY  ~  Gabriel Jason Dean, Playwright ~ Script transliteration, dialect editing and cultural input

THE PREPARED TABLE: A Feast of Foods and Stories from Iraq, Afghanistan and the F.O.B.  ~  ALICE Arts 

SLOW FALLING BIRDS  ~  Performing Arts at USF

ZEALOT  ~  South Coast Repertory

MERRY FRIGGIN CHRISMTAS with Robin Williams  ~  Hollywood Production

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT ~ Casting ~ Hollywood Production


Cultural Advocacy

Foreword, 151 Afghan Pashto Proverbs

Delegate, U.S. State Department Cultural Exchange 

Marketing and Media Campaign Ghazni 2013, U.S. Embassy in Kabul 

Organized Afghan Government Delegation, a project with U.S. State Department and the Asia Foundation 

Hosted Afghan Female Leaders in San Francisco 

Organized Governor of Ghazni's visit to San Francisco Bay Area 

Authored Paper, Women on Women Violence, Ghazni Forward Operating Base women’s initiative 

Project Artemis Afghanistan, Thunderbird University 


"Every view of the world that becomes extinct, every culture that disappears, diminishes a possibility of life."

- Octavio Paz, Writer, Poet, Diplomat