Diversifying: Napa festival to feature plays in regional languages

Event featuring 12 plays including original productions to kick off in January 2017

Rahul Aijaz December 08, 2016
A still from Hatim Tai which was staged at last year’s Young Directors’ Festival. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

LAHORE: Theatre, in Karachi, sure seems to be on the rise. The Karachi Arts Council recently held a theatre festival, the success of which exceeded expectations. And now, the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) is following up with another edition of its acclaimed Young Directors Festival.

While the dates are yet to be confirmed, Napa’s artistic director Zain Ahmed told The Express Tribune that they’re likely to be around mid-January. According to him, the festival will consist of 12 plays helmed by emerging theatre directors. When asked whether the directors will be Napa-based or range from across the city, Ahmed said it will only include Napa graduates. “The festival will only showcase the talent of Napa graduates of the past four years who are categorised as young and emerging, so the festival will only include them,” he explained.

The plays will range from some original Pakistani ones as well as adaptations. “There are two Shakespeare adaptations in Urdu, amongst others, as well as some original Pakistani plays.” Ahmed added that this time around, the plays will not be in Urdu only. “We have a play in Sindhi, one in Memoni and Punjabi,” he shared. “We thought we have been serving Urdu and producing Urdu plays for a long time. It’s our responsibility to promote theatre in other languages too.”

Napa faculty member Akbar Islam said, “A lot of people wanted to do the plays in their mother tongue so we are going ahead with it. We have approached Sarmad Sehbai to get his permission to stage Dark Room in Sindhi. I think we should definitely promote theatre in our regional languages.”

When asked whether the audience might have trouble understanding different dialects, Islam responded, “I don’t think so. Our languages are so similar that it shouldn’t be a problem. And then, we have treated our plays in such a way that people can easily understand them.”

In terms of genres, the plays will range from comedy to serious stories and everything in between.

Islam added that the graduates have a lot of potential. “That’s why we are giving them a platform, an opportunity to showcase their talents. They have a ton of potential.” The list of directors scheduled to take part includes Zakiullah Khan, Masood Rehman, Zarqa Naz and Maria Zameer, amongst many others.

Napa is focused on furthering the local theatre circuit. In addition to the Young Directors’ Festival, the academy is planning an international theatre festival in March 2017. “We are going to have international theatre troupes come to Pakistan. We have a group from the US and two from Germany whom we are in talks with. We are even going to have participants from Nepal,” revealed Ahmed.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 9th, 2016.

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