ISLAMABAD: Students of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (Szabist) performed at the National Art Gallery on Saturday, as part of the week-long Youth Drama Festival.
They performed Ishq Gadagar, a play about Pino, who wishes to give up begging and earn a decent living. The play ran an hour long and discussed begging and the negative repercussions of it on society.
“Begging is a slap on the face of a civilised society, which needs to be curtailed through advocacy and state intervention,” said the writer and director of the play, Jasim Abbas. Mr Abbas also played ‘Babo’ in the production. He said the play also discourages the transgender community from begging, and urges the state to pay attention to its responsibility towards peoples’ needs.
The main character, Pino, was played by Zaina Zaidi. Inspired by an incident, Pino tries to convince her father and other beggars to turn toward another way of life but to no avail. Pino then takes a stand, to fulfill her dream of becoming a ‘respectable’ citizen.
Ishq Gadagar was part of the juried youth theatre festival, and some of the students had participated in the same festival before. Szabist students came in second in last year’s festival and also placed the year before that.
The set depicted a bus stop, where all the beggars would beg passersby to spare some change.
“It’s the lead and she’s also the best character. I liked playing Pino because she is very decent and determined to give up a life of shame,” Ms Zaidi said.
While the production was upbeat, delays between scenes made the performance drag slightly.
Hasan Zaidi, an audience member, felt that some scenes did not connect well with the scenes that followed.
While it was apparent that the cast did their best and the acting was good, it was not good enough to evoke emotional responses among the audience. The melancholic moments were not sad enough to reduce viewers to tears, and neither did the humour have the audience laughing uproariously.
The concluding ceremony of the festival will be held on Monday. Students of the Pakistan National Council of Arts Drama Workshop will perform a short play, and certificates will be awarded to participants of the festival.
Originally published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2016