Johnny Walsh - Composer & Lyricist

Johnny is the cofounder, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist for the Americana folk band Gramophonic. He has been writing music for nearly two decades, playing in orchestra pits since he was in high school, and playing rock & roll with his father since he was old enough to sit upright. He has been developing Tear a Root from the Earth with Gramophonic since 2011. When he isn’t writing and playing music, he works as an expert on Afghanistan, having spent 7 years in government working on a peace process to end the war in Afghanistan. He is currently a Senior Expert on Afghanistan at the US Institute of Peace.


Qais Essar - Co-composer

Qais Essar is a composer, instrumentalist, and advocate with the dual mission of keeping Afghan music alive while also pushing it into the future so it does not survive merely as a cultural relic. Qais’s mastery of the Afghan rabab and diverse inspirations are on full display in his recordings, his global tours, and his composition work for film and theater. He is a co-creator of Tear a Root from the Earth, a piece of musical theater that examines the legacy of America in Afghanistan over generations. His compositions can also be heard in the films The Bread Winner (Angelina Jolie, producer) and Jirga (Felix Media). In all of his work, he represents the history, beauty, and complexity of Afghanistan through his dramatic compositions and dynamic performances. His first LP, The Green Language (2014),  was a #1 bestseller on Amazon. His second LP, Tavern of Ruin, was released in July, 2016.


John Bair - Bookwriter

John is a New York-based writer. His work focuses on the trends and forces that shape our contemporary world. In addition to Tear a Root from the Earthhe works as a consultant and helps people tell their best stories in the best way possible. He was a surrogate writer for Hillary for America and an editor for AfterWords, an online publication uniting victims of sexual assault and their allies.


Marina McClure - Director

Marina creates emotionally charged theater, opera, and spectacles by fusing striking visual design and physical work with performers. Her work has been seen throughout the US, Canada and South Africa. Marina helms the multidisciplinary art lab The New Wild, is a resident director at the Flea Theater, and a member of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab. Recent projects include CasablancaBox (2017 Drama Desk Nomination for Unique Theatrical Experience), the site-specific premiere of Sara Farrington's epic play cycle about class in America: Leisure, Labor, Lust, at The Mount in Lenox, MA, and a giant puppet parade and large-scale community performance for the Tony-winning Handspring Puppet Company in celebration of South Africa's National Day of Reconciliation. She teaches directing at The National Theater Institute at the O’Neill and frequently directs at Dartmouth College and NYU-Tisch. Upcoming: Cosmicomics (The Flea). MFA: CalArts.

Gramophonic - Band

Gramophonic is a Washington, DC-based quintet which includes by turns cello, mandolin, violin, accordion, guitar, bass, and percussion, including Central Asian tabla drums. Gramophonic shares a passion for the stories and cultures of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and China, and its songs explore members’ past lives in these countries through the American folk, blues, and roots music they grew up with. The band is a mainstay at prominent DC-area music festivals and performing venues like the Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival and the Rock & Roll Hotel.