The Karachi Arts Council is gearing up to revive its cultural activities with the Awami Theatre Festival 2020. Commencing from today, the festival will last till October 4, marking the first major event since the lifting of the lockdown.
The schedule of the festival was revealed at a news conference on Saturday evening, following which, it was updated on the Arts Council’s Instagram page, along with the schedule of the plays that will be featured. “Come join us for a fun-filled festival which will incorporate a diversified variety of musicals, comedies and tragic stage plays, held daily at 8:00pm, at the Arts Council of Pakistan,” read the post.
According to the schedule, during the course of the 18-day event, a different play will be staged each day, starting from Khala Khayalon Mein by Pervez Siddiqui to Yahi Such Hai by Zakir Mastana. Catering to a wider audience, the festival will also feature plays in Sindhi, Memoni, Seraiki and Punjabi. The Sindhi play, Khati Aayo Khair Saan, is directed by Altaf Soomro while M Ali Naqvi is the director of the Punjabi play Mera Viyah Karao. The Memoni and Seraiki plays are titled Ghabrayn Jo Na Aye and Opra, directed by Aftab Kamdar and Zahoor Malik respectively.
The plays will be commercially-inclined, given the festival is for the public and the passes will be free of cost, according to Arts Council president Ahmed Shah. “Our festivals are for the people and although the Awami Theatre Festival is an annual event, this year, the actors seem to be enjoying it more,” Shah told The Express Tribune.
Referring to hopelessness that prevailed amid the lockdown, Shah recalled how the performing artists had nowhere to go. “These artists are often coming from underprivileged backgrounds and rely on theatre as their sole means to earn. These cultural activities are their bread and butter and if you take that away, they will become hopeless,” he explained.
Shah went on to explain how the council tried its best to support the artists during the past six months, but the majority was practically jobless. “Some artists initiated their online channels but as soon as the lockdown lifted, it’s like covid-19 never existed,” he laughed. However, “All SOPs will be maintained during the festival,” he reserved, promising that it would be mandatory for the public to wear masks, which will be provided in case someone shows up without one. “We will also make sure that the public maintains distance, although when a family comes, they prefer to be seated side by side,” he said.
Nevertheless, Shah was certain that the festival would revive hope in both the actors and the audiences, given that the Awami Theatre Festival this year focuses more on uplifting plays and comedy, as opposed to social issues. “It is meant to revive happiness and provide an escape from the tense air we are surrounded by these days. I’m certain that this festival will be a treat from the council to the people who value and missed theatre,” he concluded.
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