NAPA Theatre Festival 2014
KARACHI: National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) turned nine last week, even though their journey seems much longer. After all, it takes more than just infrastructure to provide education in a craft that is still socially unacceptable at large. However, the faculty at Napa hasn’t shied away from this; their upcoming International Theatre Festival seems like the realisation of their dreams, at least in terms of theatre. Zain Ahmed, the Artistic Director of Napa Repertory Theatre (NRT), raises the curtain of the International Theatre Festival and talks about providing a space for cross conversation with Karachi’s fast-growing commercial theatre.
“The festival is becoming quite a large event, I didn’t think that it would but it has. About 12 plays will be performed over a span of 24 days,” says a rather excited Ahmed.
This time around the festival will be welcoming theatre artistes from Nepal, England, Germany and India, apart from the local troupes. On the weekends the festival will also have dramatic reading sessions, a craft pioneered in Pakistan by Zia Mohyeddin, something that has now been taken up by many small groups like Dastaan Goi and Zambeel among others. Much like the last theatre festival, this year again, there will be sessions dedicated to storytelling for children. This will also take place on the weekends, but in the mornings. Where Napa has managed to engage some major international acts, the local theatre troupes performing are the likes of Tehrik-e-Niswan and Ajoka, none of the young theatre artistes from the ‘musical’ frenzy commercial theatre scene have been engaged. Was it a conscious decision to axe the commercial theatre scene?
“Certainly not; to be very frank, the applications were open for six months but none of them responded,” clarifies Ahmed. However, he believes that Napa’s role is not about competition, there simply can’t be any competition with the commercial theatre as they have a lot of money that Napa doesn’t.
“For the commercial theatre in Karachi to survive, it is very important that they don’t run out of ideas and for that to happen there needs to be this cross conversation and that’s where the festival comes in. They need to see some of our work we need to see some of their work, so that theatre stays alive,” he adds.
Ahmed believes that this theatre festival is going to be very significant for all kinds of artistes, enthusiasts and for the health of theatre in general-be it mainstream or parallel.
“All of them must come and see what the Indians, British and Germans are doing. After all, a healthy commercial theatre scene means more job opportunities for our graduates,” says Ahmed.
Ahmed is bent upon making the much celebrated Pawnay Chauda August a part of their festival next year and that’d be Napa’s way of participating in the much needed dialogue between artistes.
“Pawnay Chuada August and Sawa Chauda August were landmark events and we have to own them. They changed everything. This dialogue has to happen, “remarks Ahmed.
The festival will go on from the March 4 to March 27, 2014, and all performances will take place at Napa. Tickets will be available at the venue.