Five minutes, three props and originality — these were the restrictions placed on the 14 schools that participated in the International Schools Educational Olympiad (ISEO) 2011 theatre competition held at the Karachi High School on Monday.
They had a choice of two topics, “Bijli si kond jaey hay, Yeh andaaz to dekho” and “Na jaaye raftan na paaye raftan”, and each school’s team presented three actors whose performances were not allowed to exceed five minutes. Only original plays were admissible and each team was allowed to utilise a maximum of three props to support their story line. Student from class X to Intermediate or Advanced Levels participated in the event.
However, the judges were less than impressed by the show.
Syed Adnan Jaffar, who has been acting with the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) for the last three years, was also on the panel. “There were five or six students who really stood out in the performances but mostly the teams were unable to stick to the themes that were provided,” he commented. On the difference between stage and television acting, Jaffar said “in theatre you need to concentrate on the movement, delivery, expression, entertainment and flow simultaneously and while some students were spot on others failed to grasp the demands of theatre.” Communication consultant and also a judge for the event, Frederick P Nazareth agreed. “There were three main aspects that were lacking in the performances. First voice projection, that is, while acting on stage you need to be able to throw your voice across the area. Second, blocking, meaning one actor cannot block another due to their placing on the platform thus upstaging the other. Third is cohesive presentation. This means the entire performance runs smoothly and working harder on the weaker actors who end up pulling down the overall performance. It also includes total emphasis on facial expressions which is good for television but on stage you need to focus on complete body language. They treated it more like a declamation than acting,” he said.
Meanwhile, judge number three, theatre artist Nimra Bucha, was of the opinion that these days, schools were no longer paying attention to drama as they thought it was not important or that there were simply no good Pakistani dramas to watch. In view of this void, Bucha said Indian dramas and Bollywood was creeping its way into local actors which “was obvious from the use of some jokes and dialogues in the students’ performances.”
However, standup comedian and author of The Dreamer Awakes, Beo Raana Zafar, saw nothing wrong with the youth being influenced by its neighbouring country. “In our day and age we were influenced by Elvis, it is just a phase.”
The results of the competition will be announced at the closing ceremony of the ISEO on February 2. “Deciding on who to award the first and second place required little debate,” Nazareth said, adding that it was the third spot which had the judges in a fix but they finally made their choice.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2011.