LAHORE: The Government College University Dramatics Club (GCUDC) play Shaoor won first prize at the All Pakistan Drama Competition organised by the British Council at the Pearl Continental Hotel here on Sunday.
The competition was part of a week-long series of cultural activities, titled Active Citizens, to celebrate the achievements of the youth of Pakistan. Teams from Beaconhouse National University, FAST University, Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore University of Management Sciences and Queen Mary College for Women participated.
Shaoor, meaning awareness, was a courtroom drama about a petition filed by a gang-rape victim, Akifa Chaudhry, played by Saba Fayyaz, who is forced to wear a black slate marked with a cross on her neck by the residents of her community. She tells the court that “respected residents” objected to her late working hours at a telephone company, as well as the fact that she was sending her younger sisters to university.
One night as she returned from work, Akifa says, five masked men abducted and raped her. She approached the local police to file a complaint naming the five suspects, but the SHO refused on the grounds of insufficient evidence. Thus, she approached the court for justice.
Akifa then faces a vicious cross-examination from the defence lawyer, played by the villainous Tasawwar Iqbal. Nayab Faiza, the president of the GCUDC, plays the part of Akifa’s attorney.
Akifa has just two witnesses to support her rape claim: an autistic youth called Bhola, played by Omar Ijaz, and a flamboyant eunuch named Khushboo, played by Omar Shahzad. The defence counsel dismisses Bhola’s testimony on the grounds of mental instability. Since Khushboo is not biologically a “complete” man, her testimony carries half the weight.
Akifa’s case is dealt a further blow by the pompous community leader Shair Samand, played by Saud Ejaz, who launches a tirade against the victim’s character. The court dismisses Akifa’s petition on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
Shair Samand is left gloating in the court, until he starts feeling a pain in his chest. He tears his shirt off to reveal a cross, like the one Akifa is made to wear, that has appeared miraculously on his chest.
The audience gave the actors a thunderous round of applause. All the actors played their parts well, including Omar Dar as the lethargic court attendant and Ali Virk as the callous policeman.
Mariam Darakshan, Saad Jamal, Fatima Tahir, Usman Khadim, Ali Khadim, Ali Murtaza, Amir Khan Afridi, Zain Tahir, Yusra Anwar, Saad Nadeem and Mohammad Arsalan were part of the GCUDC production team.
The play was conceived by faculty members Professors Yasir Sultan, Bilal Ahmed and Sameer Ahmed. It was written by Tasawar Iqbal and directed by Sameer Ahmed, who is in charge of the GCUDC.
GCU Vice Chancellor Prof Muhammad Khaleequr Rahman expressed pleasure over the GCUDC’s success and congratulated its members. He said that theatre encouraged social reform and so it was imperative that university theatre groups pick up themes which educate as well as entertain.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2011.