KARACHI: The Young Directors Theatre and Music Showcase taking place at the National Academy of Performing Arts’ (Napa) commenced on January 13. Their latest play Raat , shed light on child marriages in rural areas of Pakistan.
Written by well-known actor Salman Shahid and directed by Napa graduate Shumaila Taj, Raat tells the story of one night in the life of 12-year-old Sakina, who wishes to study but is being forced to marry an aged landlord. She has, therefore, run away from her home.
The play, which was in Punjabi, starred a brilliant cast of Akbar Islam (as Chacha Karam Deen), Chaudhary Sher Ali (Farhan Alam), Jhalla (Aqeel Ahmed), Bhoot (Amir Naqvi), Bala (Naveed Kamal), Ramju (Ahsan Ali), Ashqoo (Arthur John), Patwari Mansha (Samhan Ghazi) and Muharar Ghulam Hussain (Rahi Siddiqui). A special mention must be given to Islam and Naqvi for their phenomenal work. With a painted face and dressed in rags, Naqvi captured the heart of his character: a man mistaken for a ghost, who surived a storm wherein the rest of his wedding party and bride passed away.
Apart from the performances, the set design and lighting must be commended as well. The surreal atmosphere of a dark disturbing night on a river bank was well-captured. Talking to The Express Tribune, Taj said, “I’m glad the play turned out the way it did. People were talking about it afterwards. Some even cried at the end because the message was so strong and conveyed so well.” Regarding the underlying issue of child marriages, the director added, “I think this is how we have to share the message because there are a lot more Sakinas out there who need to be saved.”
It was Taj’s decision to stick to the original Punjabi script. “Napa asked us to do theatre in our regional languages as that is more effective. I stuck to the script, and only changed a few words here and there,” she said. “I think most of us who live in Karachi understand basic Punjabi so it must not have been too difficult to understand. I think the positive response showed that.”
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