Khalid Ahmed presents double bill at NAPA

Published: April 13, 2013
Napa’s faculty members and students perform to revive theatre-going culture in Karachi. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Napa’s faculty members and students perform to revive theatre-going culture in Karachi. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

KARACHI: It seems like the under fire National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) is finally spreading its wings. After the success of a 20-day performing arts festival, Napa held a press conference to invite all Karachiites once again for two back-to-back plays directed by veteran actor-director Khalid Ahmed. They call this project the “double bill”.

The strategy behind this double bill is to remove the stigmas attached to the academy and provide an alternate space for more commercial theatre acts similar to those that take place at the Arts Council located across the street from Napa.

Along with Khalid Ahmed, Napa’s other senior faculty members also gathered at the premises to elaborate over their upcoming double bill and gave a sneak peek into the plays and the academy’s post-festival events.

“The purpose of having back-to-back performances in our academy is to make Napa a hub of cultural activities, a space where something for the art lovers is always happening,” said Napa Artistic Director Zain Ahmed.


Napa’s faculty members and students perform to revive theatre-going culture in Karachi. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Zain also believes that with Napa’s two festivals and other plays, art lovers finally see Napa as an alternate space where people can enjoy performing arts. “Now the real challenge is to build a regular audience,” he added.

Khalid Ahmed shared his experience of directing the two plays. A theatrical rendition of a short story by Manto Baadshahat ka Khatma and a play written by Rajinder Singh Bedi Naql-e-Makani, will both be presented at the recently developed Napa auditorium.

Naql-e-Makani is one of those dramas written by Bedi that is perfectly suited for stage and fulfill the dimension of a theatre play,” the director said. “I don’t think that it has previously been staged in Pakistan, but I was interested in putting it on stage for a long time and now seemed like the right time.”

Since Bedi’s play is only 60 minutes, which is too short for a complete performance, another play based on Manto’s short story Baadshahat Ka Khatma will be staged right after.

For Badshahat ka Khatma, Khalid has tried to retain as much of the original script as possible, but minor changes were required, which are being done by Islamabad-based writer Bee Gul.

“Another reason to choose Bedi and Manto’s works was to disprove the notion that our academy only stages local adaptations and translation of classics and foreign plays,” said Khalid. “If that is the case, then here we are presenting two of our very own plays — two narratives that are perfectly suited the dimensions of stage.”

While Aangan Terrha, a play based on the TV drama of the same name, has been on stage for months at the Arts Council and is all set to complete 100 shows, Napa is still unable to sustain a proper audience. And despite being a catalyst in the revival of theatre and performing arts in Karachi, Napa still falls far behind its competition across the street.

“What is happening at the Arts Council is an extension of television,” said Khalid. “There is nothing wrong [with it] because it’s bringing people to theatre halls. But perhaps we subscribe to a different style and idea of theatre.”

Napa’s upcoming double bill will be presented starting from April 18 and will go on till May 5. The shows will only take place from Thursdays to Sundays.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2013.

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