“Most people relate contemporary theatre to commercial Punjabi productions or English musicals. I want them to break free of such stereotypes and experience how much more theatre offers”, Omair Rana, actor and producer, said on Friday. Rana was talking to The Express Tribune on the last day of a theatre workshop that started on July 4. It was organised in collaboration with The Knowledge Factory (TKF).
The Actors Theatre Workshop, Rana said, was aimed at developing an understanding and appreciation for liberal arts and theatre. Students registered at Rs6,500 per person for classes held thrice a week. During the course, the participants worked in groups to generate ideas and improvised upon them. They were also lectured on the technical aspects like sound quality. The last day of the workshop featured performances by the participants.
Rana said stage actors communicate feelings and ideas through skilful performance. The workshop was intended for people interested in experimenting and grooming their acting skills and for those who wanted to pursue acting as a career, he added.
He regretted that Pakistan lacked infrastructure to support and promote entertainment and arts in general. “Platforms like The Knowledge Factory are a refreshing relief. Otherwise the state of social activities in the country is quite stale. TKF has arranged a wide variety of events from formal education to appreciation courses.”
Rana, who has directed more than 40 theatre projects and is described in the workshop brochure as the country’s only drama teacher, also highlighted the progress in theatre studies. He said initiating drama studies classes at O-Levels had been his biggest achievement. He said he hoped to extend drama classes to advanced level too.
He said the uncertainty about financial viability was a major hurdle in pursuing performing arts as a profession. Social acceptability was another growing concern, he said.
He argued that if parents encouraged their children to pursue arts, it might help students overcome their fears often associated with it.
“A child who has always seen an abusive father will probably grow up to be one. Such is the case with practically everything, including arts.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2011.