The sixth National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) International Theatre and Music Festival opened here on Thursday evening with Brigel Gjoka’s Hotel Propaganda.
Mr Gjoka, a German director and choreographer, collaborated with local artists from Napa to direct the play.
Hotel Propaganda, an absurdist dance performance revolving around a nameless hotel owner, opens in the dark with a group of people going somewhere. On the way, a man shouts: “I have some news, I have some news”. The troupe then travelled to an unknown location where they meet a man who looks a lot like the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland and runs a hotel — Hotel Propaganda.
Once they get there, the madness starts to take over. There was minimum dialogue and the set was sparse. The actors danced to many popular songs, including Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ ‘Red Right Hand’, which is also the theme song of popular TV show Peaky Blinders.
"If you want to bring Pakistani theatre, films or any art form to international level then you have to work hard and give it everything you got." — Actor Vajdaan Shah
Stage lights were aptly used to reflect emotions of the hotel owner and visitors. Through music along with dramatic lighting, Mr Gjoka managed to explore many themes, including news sensationalism, love and loneliness. The whispers in the background and chorus added to the mood of the play.
According to Vajdaan Shah who played the role of the mad hotelier, the play and preparing for this role was a real challenge. “But if you want to bring Pakistani theatre, films or any art form to international level then you have to work hard and give it everything you got,” he said.
“He’s the owner of Hotel Propaganda. He’s a mad man and owner of a hotel where people come to go mad. They have normal lives outside the hotel but they come there especially to lose their minds — the hotel and owner push them to bring out their inner madness or inner animal,” he added.
The performance ended on a dark note with the audience realising that Hotel Propaganda was a place you could check in any time but never leave.
The play will also be running today (Friday) at 8pm at Napa.
Earlier, opening remarks were given by Napa’s chairman Tariq Kirmani and president Zia Mohyeddin who thanked their sponsors, actors, stage crew, friends and family for helping them make the festival better every year.
They said the theatre and music festival that started out small in 2012 as a six-day event would be running for 18 days this year with 24 performances by artists from different parts of the world including Nepal and Palestine.
Originally published in Dawn, March 17th, 2017