Ajoka staged its new play, Saira Aur Maira, at Alhamra Art Centre, The Mall, on Saturday to pay tribute to lawyer and rights activist Asma Jahangir.

The performance was attended by a good number of people, theatre fanciers besides Ajoka’s loyal audience. It was a jam-packed hall and latecomers among the audience were sitting on the side stairs.

Before the play, its writer and director Shahid Mehmood Nadeem told the audience the play would be staged today (Sunday) as well and it would also be a part of the Faiz Festival. He thanked GCU Vice Chancellor Professor Hassan Shah for introducing the Madeeha Gauhar Award at the GCU which would be given to best woman actor of GCU’s annual play every year.

Professor Shah, speaking on the occasion, said the GCU always held its popular alumni in high esteem and Madeeha Gauhar was a popular name while she was also the secretary of the GCDC in 1979. In recognition of her services for theatre, the GCU had introduced Madeeha Gauhar Medal, he added.

Saira Aur Maira was specially written for the Asma Jahangir Conference in collaboration with the AGHS.

The play is based on true stories of some historic cases pursued by Asma. Most of the leading actors in the play had been groomed by Ajoka’s acting classes and they performed in a major play for the first time.

Despite its grim subject, Saira Aur Maira is a celebration of courage and conviction of the women fighting against the unjust patriarchal system. The play has been presented with theatrical embellishment, music and good lighting. Striking choreography and heartwarming music are important elements of the production.

Shahid Nadeem, talking about the new production, said Asma Jahangir was a courageous lady and human rights lawyer who always raised her voice for oppressed segments of the society. Saira Aur Maira highlights her struggle as human rights lawyer by unfolding real-life stories for which Asma received criticism and appreciation at the same time. Asma received landmark verdicts against honour killings from the court which was a great victory for the human rights movement in Pakistan.

Originally published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019

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