Pakistan troupe stages play against child sexual abuse

Common Concerns

Pakistan troupe stages play against child sexual abuse

Sexual assault on children and the insensitivities on the part of the media while reporting on such cases has been portrayed in play form by a visiting theatre group from Pakistan.

Lahore-based troupe Mass Foundation, staged Guddo an hour-long play in Punjabi as part of the Delhi International Arts Festival.

The group, which has emerged as one of the successful theatre groups in Pakistan highlights social issues prevalent in the society.

Aamir Nawaz, director, Mass Foundation and an artiste from Lahore, started the group in 2002 with three of his friends in Pakistan.

“I feel that theatre is not just a way of entertainment. It can be used as a medium for spreading some message, giving a ray of hope to the people and the catharsis that the common man have. We have to become the language of that common person so that he or she will relate to it,”  Nawaz tells PTI. Guddo set in a village, revolves around a girl who is sexually assaulted and killed and the reportage of the event by media which resorts to manipulation.

Music for the play, staged with a cast of nine, was composed by Wadat Rabeez and poetry penned by Sultan Bahu, BaBu Bulleshah and BaBa Fareed.

The director says he has staged over 20 plays and produced 200 shows in a span of 12 years. Most of his works revolve around various social issues like AIDS, child labour, women rights etc.

The group does 30 to 35 performances yearly with his production which comprises talented young artistes.

“In Pakistan people are very much interested in theatre. There are only five to six well established theatre groups there who are doing regular work and giving new productions in quick successions,” says Nawaz, who also wrote the play.

“The play titled Parmeshwar Singh is closest to my heart as it is the story of a Sikh child who was lost in India in 1947. The story is based on issues of peace and harmony,” says the writer.

“Performing in India has always been a great experience. We are performing here for the fifth time, it seems we are performing in Pakistan. People are so good here and everyone is friendly and warm to us. We got the same response as we get from Lahore,” says Nawaz.

“It is always easier working here, because the language is same, the way of working is also similar” he says.

When asked about the recent blast at Wagah and other incidents at LoC, the director said the “current situation is very depressing.”

“We have a lot of visa issues, especially in the light of current blast situation at Wagah. Even then we tried very hard and managed to get a visa in the end,” says Nawaz.

The writer-director says the group plans to begin a new production Baanj focusing on the present situation between India and Pakistan.

“The content of theatre across the border is very similar to the one that is here, since the social problems on both sides of Punjab are same. There are lot of myths in India regarding Pakistan, however which is not true,” he says.

Mass Foundation, which mostly performs in Punjabi has also done some plays in Urdu and Saraiki – a southern dialect of Western Punjab. It also experiments and explores different forms of theatre be it folk, regional or contemporary.

“Indian theatre is much richer than Pakistan, where the theatre is only just developing,” he says.

Nawaz also says that he is looking forward to “some type of joint collaboration from a theatre group from India.”

In the group's first visit to India in 2008, it had performed in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Preet Nagar and later on in Cuttack, Haryana, Kurukshtera and Rohtak.

They have also staged performances in Sri Lanka, South Korea, Nepal and London.

Comments (+)