project leader
Toby (“Rusty”) T
200 Lincoln Ave.
latest update rss
No updates yet.

the project

First produced by RealTime Interventions in 2019, “Khūrākī” was created by Molly Rice in collaboration with a group of recently-resettled Afghan refugees in Pittsburgh. Originally commissioned by the Office of Public Art as part of their Artists in Residence program and supported by Pittsburgh’s refugee resettlement community and many other partners, the initial run of Khūrākī (meaning “eat” or “meal” in the Afghan language Dari) took place in four locations across Pittsburgh and sold out almost as quickly as tickets were available, creating waiting lists of 50-70 people each night.

This March, Khūrākī returned to the neighborhood where audiences first experienced it:  Millvale, PA.  On March 11-12, audiences were once again be immersed in the journey of these new Americans, through stories both harrowing and heart-warming.

Unfortunately, due to heightened risk to public health due to the COVID-19 virus, we made the very difficult decision to cancel our final, nearly sold-out performances on March 13-14.

As you might imagine, this has increased our need for funding even more, and made us even more grateful for Ioby's Artists Lead matching grant. Update:  The Artists Lead matching grant funds have hit their limit, but we are still accepting donations through the end of April for this project.

We are disappointed to have our efforts to promote the women's business through Khuraki dampened; but they are a powerful force and we will continue to find ways to promote the amazing food of Zafaron Afghan Cuisine! Please contact for a catering menu!

More about our show: 

Khūrākī celebrates the beauty of Afghan culture, music, and food through "theatrical portraits" of five strong women who will forever be Afghan but have recently become Pittsburghers as well. What do they miss about their homeland? What have they been able to preserve in the flight from home--in their traditions, in their cooking, in their hearts? What do they hope to cultivate here in Pittsburgh? And what do they want you to know about the beautiful country where they were born?

For the events, directed by Rusty Thelin, professional actors chosen by the women themselves will represent each woman, telling their stories while the women gain experience cooking Afghan dishes together for the audience, in service to their central goal: to open the first Afghan food business in Pittsburgh. The cast for Khūrākī 2020 includes Tressa Glover, Alex Manalo, Alison Weisgall, Shakara Wright, and Ashley Loren Williams.

This project began in Millvale, where New Sun Rising gave us a space for the first performance in 2019 and food entrepreneur Jen Saffron gave the Afghan group her vital mentorship and the use of her commercial kitchen. Our ties to Millvale deepened with the support of “Chief Tim” Komoroski, who donated security services in support of the refugees, and the Millvale Public Library, who offered their space for childcare for the Afghan women. After the performance, Chief Tim told us, “If everyone could see this show, this would be a better place.”

This response and our warm partnerships in Millvale drew us back there for our encore production. With these community allies, as well as new partners like the Millvale Borough, Christ Lutheran Church, Bobby Campbell of Fifth Generation Capital, and Tupelo Honey Teas, we have brought a unique arts experience to MIllvale and provided a true cultural exchange between the borough, our Afghan neighbors, and the greater Pittsburgh community. 

the steps

Here's some of what it has taken to get this ambitious project done: 

  • Feb-March 1: PR campaign in full swing: press, print and social media, look out!
  • Feb 12: the Afghan women took their ServSafe training and certification
  • Feb 14: the Afghan women's initial consultation with Pittsburgh Chamber of Cooperatives to clarify their business agreement
  • Feb 17: the Afghan women create a formal business agreement with consultation from the PCoC and attorney; apply for their business license
  • Feb 20: initial meeting and contract-signing with actors
  • Feb 24: rehearsal starts!
  • Last week of Feb: commercial kitchen rental finalized, menu planning complete, posters distributed
  • Feb 24-Mar 11: rehearsals continue with actors, musicians, and facilitators...
  • March 1: Childcare and food servers for the show hired
  • March 1-10: Food shopping and preparation; final rehearsals; completion of set 
  • March 11: OPENING NIGHT!

why we're doing it

Molly Rice is one of four local artists who were commissioned in 2017 to work with Pittsburgh's refugee populations.  Each artist was paired with an organization that specialized in dealing with specific refugee populations and/or needs.  Unfortunately, due in part to the current political climate, the organization that Molly was paired with shuttered its department's doors in December 2018;  it had been the largest refugee resettlement organization in Pittsburgh.

Fortunately, RealTime Interventions was there to step in as producers, and the project continued.  Working together with over two dozen community partner organizations and countless individual volunteers, RealTime brought Molly's vision to life for four exclusive events in 2019.  The show was a great success, selling out quickly at each location.

The women involved in this project want to share the beauty of their homeland with their new home/land.  While American media reports on war, strife, and the darker side of military conflict, that is not the narrative these women want to reinforce.  They would like their American audience to experience a taste of the beauty and diversity of their country, a country that has served as the crossroads of many cultures through the centuries, and has developed its own culture in the meantime.

The end goal of this project is to make the women of Pittsburgh's Afghan refugee population feel welcomed into the greater community, through telling their stories and sharing their food.  They have also spent the last two years learning how to start a food business, and this current run of Khūrākī is a celebration of their success. Because of their diligence and determination, Zafaron Afghan Cuisine will be the first Afghan food business in Pittsburgh, and with your help, will be ready to start taking orders by opening night!

Together we can help reinforce the image of Pittsburgh as the welcoming city we all know and love: one that builds bridges, not walls.


Disbursed budget:

Catering by Zafaron (labor, 5 ppl) 1925
Actors   3577
Musicians   $800
Playwright and refugee text royalties 600
Producers (2)   1960
Production Stage Mgr and Assistant 800
Facilitators   150
Childcare   450
Program printing   294
Media and pr materials & distribution 314
RealTime Production Fee 378.01
Performance Space Rental 550
Props, van rental, set 332
Kitchen Rental & Food Ingredients 968
TOTAL BUDGET   13098.01

TOTAL RAISED = $13,333.00
ioby Platform Fee $35.00
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $200.00

Updated Budget:

Catering by Zafaron-  $2,000
Performers (actors & musicians)- $5,000
Performance Space Rental- $2,000
Kitchen Rental & Food Ingredients- $1000

ioby Platform Fee $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $310
TOTAL TO RAISE = $10,345

Original Budget:

Catering by Zafaron-  $2,000

Performers (actors & musicians)- $5,000

Production Staff (director, producers, stage crew, facilitators)- $4,000

Performance Space Rental- $2,000

Kitchen Rental & Food Ingredients- $2,000

ioby Platform Fee $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $156


Sorry, but this project doesn't have any updates yet.


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


  • Stewart U.
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Michelle B.
  • Scott O.
  • Laura Karner
  • Bayley Brown
  • Frances Chao
  • Catherine Baird
  • Kaylynn DeFusco
  • Eric Domke
  • Chad & Dawn Brubaker
  • Elsa Santos
  • Anonymous
  • Michelle Price
  • Anonymous
  • Cotter Smith
  • Karin Rice
  • Tanning Dong
  • Paige Forster
  • Cindy Blanco & Ananya Rajgarhia
  • Pam Ludin
  • Mitra Saeidi
  • Caley Donovan
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Bruce Crocker
  • Anonymous
  • Kirsten R Ervin
  • Alison R.
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Sallyann Kluz
  • Marilyn Rice