What happens on Mondays in one of the most famous metropolitan theaters?
“We hear the whole, not only ourselves, we hear the all”, with such words of Boris Gafurov, artistic director of the Ilkhom Theater, the rehearsal of the “Inclusive Theater” project begins.
For half a year now every Monday, theater actors and children with disabilities have been engaged in theatrical art – they do exercises, moo, listen to each other, literally and figuratively stretch the threads to each other.

Within the framework of the project, the participants already had a meeting with one of the most famous directors of the social and inclusive theater Boris Pavlovich. As part of her visit to Uzbekistan, Ms. Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia has visited the theater. She was interested in how the project affects the lives of participants.
“We were not going to teach anyone. It’s all about learning, getting in touch, first of all, acquiring something new for you. This is a creative task. I’ve been 27 years on stage and it was important for me to understand my new body, my thoughts thanks to them. Working with these guys helps to get away from cliches and wakes your imagination,” said Boris Gafurov.
On that day, several mothers of children with disabilities attended the rehearsal. They noted that the children began to open up, ceased to be constrained, while many of them are told in schools that their children are learning-disabled.
In November, the theater will show its first performance. “It will be such a big village, as it usually happens in the films of Emir Kusturica,” said Boris Gafurov. “But I will not disclose the details.” Come to the performance and see for yourself. I also hope that this will not be a one-time project, and it will take root on the Ilkhom stage.”
“What did I see? People can communicate with each other, break the boundaries between those who have difficulties and who do not. The inspiration for me is how we can grow thanks to these young people, to interact with each other so that it leads to changes when everyone is equal. This helps us to understand that people with physical or mental disabilities are part of our society, and we can learn from them,” said Ms. Afshan Khan.
This visit of the UNICEF Regional Director will provide an opportunity for UNICEF and the Government of Uzbekistan to agree on areas of cooperation for the period up to 2020. In this regard, Ms. Afshan Khan met with deputies, senators, senior officials and representatives of civil society organizations.
The UNICEF Regional Director also discussed the Agenda for Young People, including on education, employment, and the empowerment of girls, which is fully consistent with the vision of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan in the course of ongoing reforms.
Uzbekistan has the largest number of children in Central Asia. Given the ongoing reforms in the country, Ms. Khan’s visit once again confirms UNICEF’s commitment to delivering on the promise of not leaving a single child without attention and care.
Text and photo by: Dana Oparina