LAHORE: Commerical theatres in Lahore are busy preparing new productions for Eid. There are 10 commercial theatres in Lahore and all of them plan to present a new production on the holiday. Though the audience of commercial theatres differs from the audience of films, producers think that more people will come to watch plays if Indian movies are not screened on Eid.
The commercial theatres are expecting a good turnout on the holiday and hence the charges of the theatre halls have also gone up. Commercial Theatre Association Chairman Chaudhary Zulfiqar told The Express Tribune that the Alhamra hall can generally be obtained for Rs200,000 but this year the hall is costing Rs500,000 for one spell. Commercial theatre producers have also announced that they will help out flood victims and the profits generated from the shows will be donated in charity, said Zulfiqar.
Zulfiqar said that 10 new stage productions will be presented on Eid and rehearsals will begin 10 days before Eid. He said that while in Ramazan there were fewer visitors to the theatre, a large turn out is expected on Eid. “New projects are undertaken only when producers have hopes of recovering their costs. If all of the commercial theatres are doing new productions it means we are optimistic that we will get our investment back,” he said. Zulfiqar said that the majority of stage artists observe Ramazan and are fasting but continue to perform in shows to entertain people. “In Ramazan plays start at 10 pm and run till 1 am. There are fewer people in the audience but the artists don’t take a break and continue to do their job.”
According to earlier reports, commercial theatre producers had decided to stage plays only in Lahore on Eid but Zulfiqar said that they had been given permission to do more shows and now they would arrange productions in other cities of Punjab as well.
Though stage artists and producers are expecting to make good money on Eid, commercial playwrights still remain neglected. A commercial playwright is being offered only Rs20,000 to write a play, which is the same amount of money a stage artist often earns in one night. When asked about this, Zulfiqar said that it was true that in the theatre business the playwrights received the lowest pay. “We don’t have many good playwrights so we don’t pay well. If good playwrights come then they can get better wages,” he concluded.
Zulfiqar added that after Eid, he and other stage artists are intending to fly to the United States to raise funds for those affected by the flood. “We are in contact with our friends in America and we are planning to do some shows in New York as well as certain other cities in an effort to raise funds for flood victims,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2010.
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