Govt urged to promote theatre as a traditional form of expression

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Zubair Qureshi

Theatre experts while participating in a webinar urged the government to make theatre part of the educational curriculum to engage youth in meaningful communication for social change.

Hundreds of social issues have emerged in the absence of cultural exposure, they said adding the unwarranted material has replaced our traditional performing arts because the society was not engaged in our own cultural entertainment avenues.

Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) and DTN jointly organized the webinar to mark the World Theatre Day.

Our rich cultural heritage and performing arts have seen the brunt of negligence, lack of funds to promote performing arts, and society’s negative attitude towards the professional engaged in it.

The devolution of culture to provinces has played havoc after the 18th amendment in the constitution of the country instead of promoting it more diligently.

What the arts councils are promoting in different cities in the name of culture and theatre is not what we need to promote.

That is all the substandard version of the culture and theatre we should stop. Our theatre should emerge from the values of literature, social and moral standards.

Pakistan’s heritage history is about 8000 years old and has traces of dance and theatre as well. We shall educate and continue with the historic heritage.

The panel of experts included former managing director PTV and the founder of the Ajoka Theatre and playwright Shahid Mahmood Nadeem, founder of Tahrik-e-Niswan Cultural Group and classical dancer, women and theatre activist Sheema Kermani, CPEC expert and the chief executive officer of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment Daud Hassan Butt, Programme Executive Pakistan national Council of the Arts (PNCA) Waqar Azeem, advisor to the president National Defense University Lt. General (Retd) Raza Muhammad, director theatre walay Safeer ullah Khan, faculty member Iqra University Karachi campus Ali Kazmi, faculty member Islamia University Bahawalpur (IUB) Agha Sadaf Mehdi, Ayesha Hassan and Dr Khushboo Ejaz from Lahore, and Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed.

Shahid Mahmood Nadeem said public-private partnerships are essential to develop an umbrella regime of theatre to engage different stakeholders for national coherence and international diplomacy.

Sheema Kermani said federal and provincial governments have to make traditional performing arts including dance and theatre their priority to make the culture and its associates survive.

Due to negligence and lack of opportunities, many theatre halls have been closed.

Daud Hassan Butt acknowledged the effort in promoting arts and craft and role of people to people contact for bilateral and inter-communal communication and understanding.

Munir Ahmed said theatre is the languages of masses and a traditional way of societal expression, storytelling and entertainment.

The joy, happiness and inner-satisfaction comes from the interactive and live performances which have restricted many taboos associated with the cultural performances.

Theatre has played a significant role in presenting ideas and ideologies before the audience in a very natural way.

We need to engage youth in many ways to educate the masses about the contemporary issues to bring a social change we are looking for to make our society a vibrant and dynamic
one.

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