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India gets a taste of Ajoka

Theatr­e troupe return­s after hostin­g theatr­e festiv­al across the border­

Members of Ajoka addressing the press conference at Alhamra auditorium. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Members of Ajoka addressing the press conference at Alhamra auditorium. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

LAHORE: Ajoka Theatre made a small but significant contribution to the peace-building process between Pakistan and India with their recently held theatre festival in New Delhi. ‘Humsaya’ was the first festival that featured Pakistani plays in India and took place at the Kamani auditorium from September 14-September 17.

Members of Ajoka Theatre shared further details of the festival in a press conference held at Alhamra auditorium. “The festival opened with Ajoka’s iconic play Bullah, followed by internationally acclaimed Dara,  Kaun Hai Yeh Gustakh  and Lo Phir Basant Aee ,” Shahid Nadeem , executive director of Ajoka said at the press conference.

According to Ajoka officials, all four shows were jam-packed with long queues forming outside the auditorium several hours before the show time. Each performance received prolonged standing ovations.

“Audience stayed back after the performances to meet the artists and share their emotions and desire for friendship. The audience included veteran bureaucrats, artists, theatre professionals, students and diplomats,” added Nadeem.

He believes that the festival will be remembered for its innovative take on theatre, exploration of multiple themes and inspiring performances. “It was a festival that celebrated peace, friendship and human values.”

Apart from the festival, Ajoka also organised an Indo-Pak Theatre for Peace seminar in New Delhi. The seminar was held on September 18 at the School of International Studies of the Jawaharlal Nehru University. The panelists included Usha Ganguli from Kolkata, Ashish Sen Gupta from Shiligri, North Bengal,  Kewal Dhaliwal from Amritsar, Asghar Nadeem Syed from Lahore and Ajoka’s artistic director  Madeeha Gauhar. Veteran peace campaigner and scholar Pran Nevile presided and Shahid Nadeem moderated the seminar.

During the tour, Gauhar fell ill and her condition worsened due to gastroenteritis. While her husband and team members have returned to Pakistan, she is still under treatment in New Delhi.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2015.

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