LAHORE: Ajoka Theatre has played its role in promoting peace between Pakistan and India, playwright Shahid Nadeem said on Thursday.
He was speaking at a press conference about the Humsaya theatre festival that Ajoka had organised in New Delhi from September 14 to 17. He said the event was a monumental success. Indian Union Minister Mahesh Sharma and Ajoka’s Madeea Gauhar and Shahid Nadeem had inaugurated the event.
The festival opened with Ajoka’s play Bulha followed by Dara which is about the conflict between Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh.
The next performance, Kaun Hai Yeh Gustakh, was a tribute to short story writer Manto. The play was withdrawn from the National School of Drama Festival in 2013 for security concerns. Manto, the recently released film, is based on the script.
The festival concluded with Lo Phir Basant Aee which is about Lahore’s rich and lively culture.
“All four shows were jam-packed. Each performance received a standing ovation. Many among the audience would stay after the performances to meet the artists,” Nadeem said.
He said they had also arranged a seminar on peace at Jawaharlal Nehru University. “It was interesting to discuss matters related to the two countries, including the growth of extremist parties in India, with the youth and professionals.”
Nadeem said Ajoka’s plays had been critical of the situation in Pakistan. “We are often told that we propagate a negative image of Pakistan… in fact we show the level of tolerance in Pakistan,” he said.
“The plays that are often critical of political forces are allowed to be staged in Pakistan. This shows our leaders’ tolerance of divergent opinions.” He said the acting, scripts and direction of the plays had received great appreciation in India. “There might be tensions along the Line of Control but there is peace between the two countries along cultural lines,” he said.
He said the Pakistan High Commission in India had also hosted a reception for the Ajoka team.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2015.