Lights (out), camera, action!

Published: June 4, 2010

Actor Adnan Siddiqui wants the government to increase power production. POHOTO: PUBLICITY

KARACHI: Before a performance of Moulin Rouge, the musical that recently concluded its run in Karachi, director Shah Sharahbeel not only asked attendees to switch off their phones, but instructed them to support actors on stage by directing their cell phone display light on them if the lights went out.

Theatre producers and directors have had to learn how to cope with the electricity crisis.

Director and actor Sheema Kirmani told The Express Tribune, “By now we know how to manage it. Outdoor theatre has fewer problems but inside the theatre hall we end up using candle lights.”

Karachi’s National Academy of Performing Arts stages its plays at the Arts Council, and according to a representative, the academy incurs high costs to maintain lights. “We hire a 350-KV generator for Rs25,000 which uses as much as 150 to 200 litres of diesel. The electricity at the auditorium is often not cut for up to two hours. The generator ends up functioning for the entire day if the electricity goes off in between the play.”

Sania Saeed from the Katha theatre group, which organised the TCF Theatre Festival this March, shared her experience. “This time at the festival we suffered power cuts only once, luckily. We were on stage and performing when the power cuts occurred, so what we do is freeze and resume acting when the generator switches on. Interestingly, the audience was so engrossed in the play that they froze too.” But Saeed believes one can’t take a risk when there are young children in the audience. “When we did the play for children, we certainly could not take the chance with power cuts and staged the entire play on a generator!”

Actors are quite bitter over what is one of the biggest issues facing Pakistan today.

According to Mona Lisa, “The government’s duty is to provide its people with facilities. The situation would not have worsened like this if the electricity crisis had been controlled from the start. But it is never too late. All the politicians holding key offices should meet to find a way out.”

Actor Adnan Siddiqui lamented the fact that there have been no solutions to the problems facing the country. “The crises are still the same,” Siddiqui told Daily Express. “We do not see any improvement regarding prices, unemployment, terrorism and electricity shortages. Though the duration of power cuts went down previously, people now face the same predicaments. The authorities should take immediate action to increase the power production.”

With additional reporting by Qaiser Iftikhar from Lahore

Published in the Express Tribune, June 5th, 2010.

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