A scene from a prior production of Palestinian theatre group The Freedom Theatre's 'Return to Palestine'. — Photo courtesy The Freedom Theatre
A scene from a prior production of Palestinian theatre group The Freedom Theatre's 'Return to Palestine'. — Photo courtesy The Freedom Theatre

This year’s line-up of musical and theatrical acts that form part of the International Theatre and Music Festival of the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) will include Palestinian and Nepalese productions along with several collaborations with German and American artists, it was announced at a press conference on Thursday.

The festival will start from March 16 and end on April 2.

Director of the Napa Repertory Theatre, Zain Ahmed, spoke about how these international performers are an exciting addition to the yearly festival organised by Napa.

“This is for the first time in Pakistan that a Palestinian theatre group, The Freedom Theatre, will be performing in the country. Return to Palestine will be performed on March 18 and is directed by Micaela Miranda,” he said.

Based on the theme of identity and belonging, the play gathers stories from Jenin, Fasayil, Dheisha refugee camp, Mufaqara and Gaza.

Another international performance is a Nepalese production of Hamlet directed by Gregory Thompson, which was performed at the South Bank Centre in London last year. The play will be staged on March 26, and as it is to be performed in Nepali, efforts are under way by Napa to provide subtitles for the audience.

Responding to a question about the lack of participation from Indian artists at this year’s festival, Ahmed was of the view that keeping in mind the visa woes that cropped up last year, as well as the recent souring of affairs between the two countries, they felt it appropriate to not take any risks by featuring Indian directors or performers.

Sheema Kirmani was also present at the press conference to talk about Tehrik-i-Niswan’s production that will be part of the festival. “The play is titled Ga’on Mae Roshni which is being co-directed with Anwer Jafri and is very reflective of the current atmosphere in the country. The breakup of the feudal structure, the powerful and the powerless, and the status of women are just some of the issues tackled in the play,” she said.

Ga’on Mae Roshni will be staged on April 1.

Among the musical acts at this year’s festival, German choreographer and professional stage dancer Brigel Gjoka will be presenting a dance performance titled Hotel Propaganda.

Gjoka recalled his first performance at Napa three years ago, and expressed his desire to return again for a third performance. “Each time I come to Pakistan I not only share my knowledge but also am challenged which is a very enriching experience. Hotel Propaganda for me is about life in general which is beautiful and painful at the same time.”

Ustad Nafees Ahmed said that there would be five performances in the festival that will reflect the diversity of languages, cultures and music in Karachi.

“One particular performance which is close to my heart at this year’s festival is of Allama Iqbal’s Shikwah Jawab-i-Shikwah.”

This year’s festival will also showcase five original plays, which have been especially selected to form part of the theatrical line-up.

The Goethe Institut, the Italian consulate and Karachi Youth Initiative are also collaborating with Napa for this year’s International Theatre and Music Festival.

Meanwhile, Napa also announced a piano recital, which will be held on March 11.


Originally published in Dawn, March 10th, 2017

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