Cricket fever has gripped many since the very first World Cup match but now commercial theatres in Lahore are also basing their jokes on the World Cup to amuse the audience, whose numbers have decreased since the beginning of the tournament.
The jokes largely remained positive but a shift came after Pakistan lost against New Zealand. Arshad Chaudhary, a commercial theatre producer says, “a lot of jokes are being made about Pakistan’s wicket keeper Kamran Akmal whose pathetic performance played a decisive role in Pakistan’s defeat”.
At a stage play in one of Lahore’s commercial theatres on March 10, an artiste commented on Kamran Akmal in the following words: “Kamran Akmal is a very good goal keeper, but Pakistani cricket team is using him as a wicket keeper. He can be wonderful behind the stumps if the bowlers use a football instead of the cricket ball. The problem is that the cricket ball is too small to fit into his gloves”.
“The stage plays are based on current events and trends. Artistes make jokes about relevant things. Right now, the hottest topic in most conversations is the World Cup so the artistes are making jokes about it,” says Chairman Commercial Theatre Producers Association, Chaudhary Zulfiqar. He added that, “the business however has been quite low since the World Cup started. We get a limited audience on the days when Pakistan has a match. The stage artistes are playing their role to keep the cricket buzz alive given that the World Cup venues unfortunately don’t include Pakistan”.
Other than the dialogues and jokes, stage artistes are also parodying several hit songs to make them relevant to cricket, Zulfiqar said.
“Many stage artistes also have a keen interest in cricket and keep asking the score when they are backstage. My television set remains on throughout the matches and from time to time artistes come to my office to catch a glimpse and see the score,” Alhamra’s stage manager said.
“The job of a stage artiste is to engage the audience, given the depressing political and economic condition, regardless of how the team performs — cricket remains a breath of fresh air. Winning or losing is a part of the game and one man’s miserable performance, is another man’s standing ovation” said the stage artist Sakhawat Naz.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 12th, 2011.