First theatre festival at Karachi -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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First theatre festival at Karachi Arts Council to start July 16

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: After multiple vain attempts, the Karachi Arts Council is finally set to organise its very first theatre festival later this year. Tentatively titled as the Arts Council Theatre Festival, the 17-day event is scheduled to take place from July 16-31.

It is the first time a theatre-related festival is being organised by the council. “We have only recently announced the festival and are already flooded with applications and scripts from troupes across the country,” Karachi Arts Council General Secretary Ahmed Shah told The Express Tribune.

Despite receiving applications from across Pakistan, Shah made it clear that the inaugural edition would only feature Karachi-based troupes. “As one of the prominent cultural centres in the city, it is our responsibility to provide a platform to homegrown talent,” he explained. “Plus other cities such as Islamabad, Lahore and even Faisalabad have their own arts councils.”

However, a notable exception seems to have been made to accommodate Dawar Mahmood and the Islamabad-based troupe, Kopykats Production. “Even though they are based in Islamabad, they mainly operate out of Karachi,” said Shah. The troupe will therefore be performing at the upcoming event along with other Karachi-based performers.New direction: Theatre training, folk music sessions on the cards for youth

A host of prominent troupes have already confirmed their participation in the festival including Nida Butt’s Made for Stage Productions and National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa). The academy’s faculty members Zain Ahmed and Khaled Ahmed are also in talks with the council members regarding their presence at the event. “We [Napa] hope to take part in the festival but more importantly I think this event could be a great stepping stone for some of our young directors and recent graduates. So I hope the arts council considers them,” Ahmed, who is also the artistic director of Napa Repertory Theatre Company, told The Express Tribune.

Recent years have seen an exponential rise in the number of arts and theatre-related events being organised across the country. How does the Karachi Arts Council plan to make its debut theatre festival stand out? “We are not in competition with Napa or anyone else. In fact we encourage others to organise similar events so that people have more avenues to see quality performances,” Shah explained.

One is forced to wonder whether distancing itself from all the commercial plays, which are usually staged at the facility, for a 17-day festival was a clever move by the council. Waving off this notion, Shah clarified that the Council will continue to stage “awami” plays but is also keen on diversifying.

“Hopefully if things go according to plan, we may even go on to stage a similar theatre festival for awami plays.” He also shared that apart from staging a variety of performances at the upcoming festival, the council will also preview its upcoming productions such as Shehzori.

Express Tribune