KARACHI: The cultural landscape of the metropolis seems ripe as a string of plays are expected to be performed in the weeks following Eidul Fitr. With the Arts Council of Karachi having already announced not one but two plays, Haseena Moin’s Shehzori and Anwar Maqsood’s Siachen, the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) wasn’t going to stay far behind. The academy is set to stage a comedy play titled Baba Jaali Noos.
The play, which is an adaptation of Moliere’s play Tartuffe, has been directed by Napa graduate Fawad Khan. Speaking to The Express Tribune, Fawad described the play as an “out-and-out comedy.” He said, “This play is a comedy like other plays written by Moliere, but there’s a slight socio-political undertone to it as well.”
Fawad shared that the play will highlight the religious hypocrisy that’s prevalent in the society. “One of the themes of Baba Jaali Noos is the religious hypocrisy in our society and how innocent people tend to fall prey to it.” Fawad lauded Khalid Ahmed, senior Napa faculty member, for adapting the play with great tact. “When you watch the play, you will get a flavour of Agha Hashr Kashmiri’s language, as the dialogues have a distinct rhythmic structure to them,” he noted.
Fawad, who has previously performed in and directed plays for the Napa Repertory Theatre (NRT), knew that foraying into comedy would be no stroll in the park. “It’s not like I haven’t done comedy in the past. I acted in the play Chheh Kirdar Aik Musanif Ki Talash Mein, in which my character had a comic element to it, but doing a full-on comedy play is something entirely different,” he stated. He said comedy is analogous with walking a “fine line,” commenting on how one needs to be part of the experience to be able to execute it. “Actors should ensure they don’t try too hard to be funny. Their performance should neither be over-the-top nor low on energy. It has to be perfect,” he added.
NRT has often been criticised for not showing original productions and concentrating their efforts mainly on adaptations, a trend that will continue with Baba Jaali Noos. Fawad holds the sluggish growth of theatre in the country liable for this. “The growth of theatre has been stunted. Like in television, people have been writing a lot of new TV serials because it’s more commercially viable, but that’s not the case with theatre,” he proclaimed.
Although Fawad didn’t divulge any details about the plot or cast of the play, the original play follows a family that’s under the influence of Tartuffe, a fraud pretending to be pious. Such is his control over the household that the head, Orgon, doesn’t take any action without consulting him first. Of his expectations from the play, given that it’ll be performed at the same time as Anwar Maqsood’s Siachen, he said that he’s hopeful that the play will do well, as he has previously staged plays in even tougher circumstances. Baba Jaali Noos is expected to be staged from August 19 onwards.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2015.
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