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  • THEATRE AND CREATIVITY:

ASR has consciously and systematically attempted to direct its efforts towards the field of communication (whether this be through training, publication, or using visual art forms). It has also tried to get groups involved in communication to work in areas of alternative development and awareness creation. It has designed and printed relevant posters and other publications while at the same time it has tried to start to develop slides and other audio-visual material for development purposes. It endeavoured to link up theatre and other groups to organisations working for social transformation, so that theatre can be used as a form for awareness creation and mobilization.

ASR has been involved in encouraging Lahore-based theatre groups, like Ajoka Theater Group to participate in a conference organised by the Sindh Rural Workers Co-operative in April 1987 and also again in two other workshops. The Punjab Lok Rehas Theatre Group was also involved in one of the workshops and both these groups were linked up to the Asian Cultural Forum on Development.

ASR is and has been interested in helping to bridge the gap between various types of social action groups, especially between urban and rural areas, by trying to develop a sense of understanding and commonality between the two. ASR also has considerable experience in facilitating and in development workers.

ASR feels that theatre is a useful medium for creating a sense of awareness among the people for them to be able to control their own lives. This is so because theatre can reach out to them and also because in oral society visual and audio presentations are much more effective.

Although theatre in Pakistan has a history, however in the recent past there have been problems because even though the theatre groups are interested in political theatre but have not picked up issues affecting the average person, for example, development issues, nor are they linked to groups in the community (urban or rural). ASR wanted them to understand the concept of street theatre and be able to train others to start a theatre movement.

LOK REHAS WORKSHOP AND THEATRE FESTIVAL:

In this regard, a street theatre workshop and two theatre festivals were organized, one in 1988-89 with Pakistani and Indian groups and the other in 1992 with groups from Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. It was an opportunity for the Pakistani participants (who have had little experience in actual street theatre) to learn new skills and techniques because this particular form of theatre was and still is the best form of mobilising villagers, trade unions, and peasant groups and also to create a sense of awareness among them vis-à-vis their country and their rights as human beings.

ASR also facilitated the training of Pakistani theatre groups by bringing in theatre professionals from India and by facilitating theatre activists to go for training elsewhere. ASR also produced and organized a South Asia play in Bangkok in December 1992 in which Pakistan, India and Nepal staged a play at the People’s Plan for the 21st Century.

ASR held the first Theatre Festival with Indian theatre activists from India in 1989 and a South Asia Theatre Festival in 1992. Since then it has organized several others in Lahore and in other cities including Sanghar and Toba Tek Singh. Two of them included participating groups from Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. ASR produced two plays. One “The Sixth River” included theatre activists from South Asia and was directed by an Indian feminist. It was produced for a showing in Bangkok. The IWSL produced an Urdu language production of Ibsen’s ‘Doll House’ in 1994 with Samina Peerzada and Samina Ahmed. It was translated by Shoaib Hashmi and was held at the Al-Hamra, the largest theatre complex in Pakistan.  The Norwegian government then invited the group to perform the play in Norway.