Theatre’s finest

August 07, 2022

The 25th theatre festival at the Alhamra concluded last week

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rom Shakespeare to Bernard Shaw, the theatre has been playing its role in social discourse. The 25th theatre festival at Alhamra concluded last week after eight days of memorable performances. A perfect celebration of art and culture, the festival was special as it took place close to the 75th independence anniversary of Pakistan.

Nau Ratan Theatre brought attention to the Kashmir issue in a dramatic performance, Lahoo Rung Hai Wadi. Depicting a family from the occupied and oppressed Jammu and Kashmir facing continuous oppression by the Indian Army, the play emphasised how the domestic lives of Kashmiri families are routinely disturbed at the hands of Indian soldiers. It ended on a tragic note with Indian soldiers invading the family home, killing the bride and several other family members of the protagonist.

Theatre Wallay Productions paid a tribute to Patras Bokhari’s dramatic genius by performing his Marhoom Ki Yaad Mein. Portraying the everyday struggles of the middle class in a humorous way, the play received a standing ovation. One of the characters that stood out was Mirza. Lack of ambition and being resigned to a miserable life has turned him into an absurdist. However, even his bizarre behaviour is not without an entertaining side to it.

Theatre Wallay Productions’ Marhoom Ki Yaad Mein was declared the best production by the audience, perhaps because it was the most relatable to the daily grind of life of a middle-class person.

Azad Theatre performed the play, Tootan Wala Khooh, an adaptation of Sohan Singh Sital’s novel of the same title. They received an Appreciation Award for their effort. Opening with a Punjabi cultural dance and moving forward with the poetic verses of Waris Shah, the play was a treat for both the eyes and the mind. It tackled the subject of Partition and how the suffering of the displaced and hounded people was one of the darkest chapters of the subcontinent’s history.

Ajoka Theatre’s Suicide Point was a cutting critique of capitalism in the 21st Century. The play highlighted the growing commercialisation of everything, giving way to further destruction, and burdening the future generations with the consequences of irresponsible waste. Ajoka Theatre also performed an adaptation of Saadat Hassan Manto’s short story, Toba Tek Singh, which is also about the Partition aftermath.

Among all the plays presented at the festival, Theatre Wallay Productions’ Marhoom Ki Yaad Mein was declared best by the audience, perhaps because it was the most relatable to the daily grind of a middle-class person. The dialogue delivery was superb and the acting convincing. One should not miss this festival which, barring extraordinary circumstances, has been held every year at around the same time.

The author is an English literature student at Government College University, Lahore

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