The plight of Pakistani theatre
LAHORE: An artist may be a product of the society but art itself requires more than just inspiration. Perhaps this is the reason why the question of sustenance is brought up by Pakistani parents whenever their offspring asks them, “How about I take up acting as a career?”
While some may argue that in a country like ours, things for performing arts in general and theatre in particular will never improve, one should question the government’s indifference towards the plight of Pakistani theatre artists. On account of World Theatre Day, directors underscored a variety of reasons why theatre continues to fight for survival in the country.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop boss Usman Peerzada said it is a tragedy that theatre is not taken seriously. “This is not the case in developed countries,” he said, adding, “This is why all we have on offer are vulgar stage plays.” As the director of one of the country’s most prominent theatre companies, Peerzada said money is a major problem. “There is a brain drain of sorts in theatre circles. We hardly have any good writers or actors,” he maintained. Explaining the reason behind this, he said television is all the rage these days and everyone wants to make money quickly.
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Ajoka Theatre founder Shahid Nadeem concurred with Peerzada. “Without the help of the corporate sector and the government, theatre can never play its due role in Pakistan,” he said.
On the other hand, stage director Goshi Khan feels both commercial and parallel theatre are in a crisis. While the likes of Nadeem and Peerzada may not approve of the sort of commercial content that is put out, one cannot deny that it helps make people like Khan a living. “One cannot deny the entertainment factor. With government help we will be able to improve the quality of our plays,” Khan said.