It’s been nearly 15 years since Nadia Jamil and Sania Saeed worked together and now the much celebrated duo is collaborating again. The news of the stars to perform together has created a buzz. The two will be seen in a theatre play titled, Lorilei, written by Thomas Wright.
The play will be performed in English and Urdu on May 30 and 31. Jamil is directing Saeed in the Urdu version of the play and Saeed will direct Jamil in the English version of the play.
The technical production is being done by Olomopolo theatre production and Justice Project Pakistan.
“It is always exciting to work with this woman (Saeed), it’s been a dream. I have been wanting to get my hands on her for a long-time. There is a lot of stuff that I just want to see her do. It’s fantastic as director; she takes on her roles so beautifully,” says Jamil.
The play is unique; it has been used as a tool for political change and activism against the ruthlessness of the death penalty, as part of the campaign launched by the Justice Project.
The story is about Lorilei Guillory, whose six year-old son Jeremy was murdered by Ricky Langley who eventually gets sentenced to the death penalty. It’s about the mother’s journey and how she develops sympathy and compassion and garner’s the strength to forgive and overcome the ordeal.
“Because we are directing each other and also observing each other’s performances as actors, it’s fascinating how our role of Lorilei evolves. I watch her and use that in my own performance. We are using each other’s strengths and pointing each other’s flaws, so it’s really exciting to be working in that space with her,” says Jamil.
“If you are able to develop a certain relationship, it stays with you and whenever you fall back into that scenario, the bond comes back. That’s how it is with me and Nadia, I think that’s the good thing about theatre it builds relationships between actors, directors and teams, which generally television doesn’t have time for,” shares Saeed.
When shown the script, Jamil knew what she was getting into, due to the intensity and depth of the play. “I had literally skimmed through the script and was pretty gung-ho about it, but I knew I needed someone to direct me and that’s when I knew I wanted Sania on board,” says Jamil.
“The process has been so cathartic, because if someone hurt a child I loved, I would want to kill them. That’s where I started; saying the lines over and over again. It’s clear that the hate must end, the killing must end, and someone has to start that. You realise that the killing or violence you see in the world today whether its Pakistan or elsewhere, comes from a place of fear,” says Jamil.
“You realise that killing a murderer will not lessen murderers in society, you will still have that fear breading, yet more violence. For me, as a woman and mother, the premise of this character, how this woman who rises above everyone else and learns the power of forgiveness, was very empowering,” adds Jamil.
Saeed, who like Jamil has been known for her roles on television, says that they have been rehearsing for nearly twenty days intermittently and he thrill of being on stage beats television and film. “You have more creative control when you’re doing theatre, something like this would never be done on television. This kind of commitment or oneness with what I am saying, the kind of psychological alliance is something I find in theatre and not in television, that’s why we keep coming back to it,” says Saeed.
The play will premiere in Lahore. Other cities will have to wait due to the busy schedules of the two actors. They do wish to get the play out to the wider audiences.
“We are hoping to take this to other cities, but right now, Nadia and I are overcommitted, so we do not know when that would happen. However, we most likely would want to take this to different places and perform this more often, it is something that we feel people should see, talk about, debate or whatever,” says Saeed.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2014.