LAHORE: The Rafi Peer Theatre Youth Performing Arts Festival commenced on Wednesday at the Alhamra Cultural Complex with a noticeably lighter crowd than at previous festivals.
This was the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop’s first festival since a bombing at the 2008 World Performing Arts Festival. Amid tight security, Wednesday’s festivities were witnessed by a crowd made up mostly of students from the participating institutions.
The first day had two documentaries by National College of Arts (NCA) students, a mime by The City School, Model Town, and a play by the Salamat International Campus for Advanced Studies.
The screening of the short documentary movies at Hall no 2 began late as there were problems with the projector. The first short film was about how the Zuljina horse, a special animal meant to represent the horse of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA), is taken care of. The 20-minute documentary also contained clips from real Shia processions where the horses are adorned with flowers and consecrated sheets of green and black cloth inscribed with religious verses.
The second film, The Uninvited by Zaheer Shahid, told the story of a Pakhtun man, a presumed terrorist, who develops a friendship with an elderly couple that he has taken hostage. He is shot and killed by intelligence agents when he tries to run away.
The head of the intelligence team later learns that he shot an innocent man.
The NCA play revolves around four people who have worked together in a radio station for 15 years. The radio industry is losing out to television and the characters are recording the last episode of a show. The play is set in the commercial breaks of the show, when the characters share their memories. The crowd chanted NCA in appreciation of the actors.
The third performance was a mime by O Level students from The City School, Model Town. It was set in the Indian subcontinent and covered British rule, communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims and Partition. It was well received, eliciting sobs from some older members of the audience.
Farkhanda Saleem, the director and a teacher at the City School, said the mime had also been appreciated by an Indian audience on a school trip across the border. “To make our children politically active in the future, we have to connect them with the past,” she said.
Students from Salamat School put on a mime performance to Chal Bulleya by the Mekaal Hasan Band and a play about how the good are exploited in our society. Salamat students made up a large part of the crowd and they cheered vociferously as the play, Bandeya, kicked off with an announcement from newscasters that four mental patients had escaped.
They include Col Amjad Baig, an honest soldier who was court marshaled; Prof Salman, a political science teacher who caught a politician’s son cheating in exams and was accused of being drunk and getting a bribe; and Noor Bano, whose daughter was raped and killed. They are led by a man named Mododi who believes himself to be their mother and father. The play was directed by Rana Majid.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2010.