KARACHI: With a seating capacity of around 100 people, the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) inaugurated a newly built basement theatre in their new building on Sunday evening.
The new performance space built in the basement of the Napa auditorium was designed for mini theatres and performances which do not need large sets and a lot of actors. “This space is specifically designed for plays consisting of three to four actors,” said acting teacher at Napa Khalid Ahmed during his introductory speech.
The theatre space has not been named yet but it is being referred to as the Napa Basement Playhouse. “We have a lot of expectations from this place and are encouraging new writers, directors and alumni of the institute to use this space and gain experience from performing here,” said Ahmed, adding that for plays only three things are compulsory – performers, viewers and a small area in which to perform.
The Basement Playhouse has been designed as an intimate theatre, which can also be used as a ‘Baithak’ by the students and actors. Sharing the reason for not expanding the theatre to accomodate a larger audience, he said that in theatres viewers should feel like part of the play and by creating a smaller space for performances, people in the audience will be able to experience this feeling.
To officially inaugurate the playhouse, actor, producer, director and television broadcaster Zia Mohyeddin read aloud from ‘Parhanth’, which he said can only be understood if one has a strong command over the language. “To read and get something from the text you need to understand what you are reading,” he explained, adding that while reading one should concentrate on the pauses and stops because the context and meaning changes if you emphasise the wrong word.
He also recited a poem by Urdu poet Meeraji and phrases from the writings of Shakespeare, Pitras Bukhari, Ibn-e-Insha and the first ever theatre ‘Radha Kanhaiyya Ka Qissa’ written by Wajid Ali Shah between 1840 and 1842.
After the reading, Ustad Nafees Ahmed and Ustad Bashir Khan performed a blend of sitar and tabla for the audience.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2017.