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Nov 29 2009

Kahanian staged at the Arts Council

Category: Articlesmansoor @ 1:18 am

Theatrics: Sampling life

By Sumera S. Naqvi
Katha’s director, Shahid Shafaat, is right in saying that the local audiences still bosom some kind of conviction to watching theatre that is funny and carries an aesthetic sense at the same time.

The acclaimed theatre troupe returned to stage after a hiatus of five years recently with Mein Adakara Banoon Gi, and now with Kahanian staged at the Arts Council from November 21-25, Shahid feels that it is this conviction from the audience that leads theatre groups to believe that the show must go on.

Katha’s Kahanian comprises three stories that expose human follies wrapped in a shell of senseless aplomb — these are little stories about you and me that we tend to make small talk with co-workers, relatives, friends, housewives, bus co-commuters, etc. All these stories, however, seem to run a common undercurrent — how we all continue to deceive ourselves with our own complex cultural and psychological dispositions that, if mirrored outside us, belittle us no end.

Sampling from the work of 19th century writers: famous American writer Henry James, Russian dramatist Chekov and Spanish brothers Serafin and Joaquin Alvarez Quintero, Shahid Shafaat adapted the interesting trio of plays immersed in a sense of realism that is universal to all kinds of audience. Thank God for adaptations though as original plays seem to be quite far-fetched at this point in time. One wonders why.

Chekov’s Lottery is about a docile housewife (Sania Saeed) and an egotist husband (Saleem Meraj) who win a lottery ticket worth Rs1 crore. As the power of love is suddenly overawed by the power of money, the husband realises that the (im)balance between the husband-wife relationship may be in jeopardy as the prize was in the wife’s name. Soon a real gain goes in vain as the husband mulls over the fate of the lottery ticket, tearing it up to keep the status quo intact.

Henry James’ Aunty (Kahan Ka Ishq) touches upon the insecurities of Farah (Sania again), an ageing woman who lives in a working women’s hostel and works for an insurance company. Her new roommate, Rachna (Fizza Zehra), turns out to be her college friend, a divorcee and a simple woman who teaches at a local college. Though the two stand in contrast, there seems to be an ‘opposites attract’ appeal between them which also tends to work as a controlling latch on each other — Farah is obsessed with her curves and her flirty nature but Rachna is the sane factor in her life.

Aik Subha is adapted from a play written by the Spanish brothers, Serafin and Joaquin Alvarez Quintero, which is about elderly people meeting in a park and remembering being in love with each other back in Delhi before Partition. Both try to mislead each other when they both know that they are the ones who were involved. The amusing exchange and the pleasant banter, though prolonged, was finely acted by Ehtashamuddin and Sania Saeed donned in a hunter’s kit and a sari, respectively — one not letting old age take over him while the other accepting it as a part of life.

Sania Saeed was seen at her very best as she acted the shades and tones of the characters very well in all of the three plays. She portrays roles that tend to resemble some relative or an acquaintance around us, “The audience tends to find a cousin or a chachi or a khala in me.” It may not sound very complimentary but it does imply her tremendous potential as a versatile actor.

One couldn’t help noticing an overspill on her part at times, but Sania was at ease on stage and undisputedly funny. In Lottery, Saleem Meraj commendably drew up a very engaging image of how a dominating husband can continue to befool his wife into worshipping her as the majazi khuda, not letting her ever take the driving seat.

Given the state of the art acoustics of the Arts Council theatre, Saleem Meraj and Ehtashamuddin pitched their voice throw levels appropriately according to the need of the situations.

Katha has a good sponsor in the Rotary as the latter sell tickets through their advantage in networking and philanthropic work. It was a pleasure to see the hall packed to capacity for theatre should not be shown for free. Many theatre activists feel it spoils the sense of commitment of the theatre goer.

Now that theatre groups are receiving more encouragement to revive their work, perhaps they should seriously hire financial managers who could work on the dynamics, especially the selling of the tickets. Katha is working on a new project due in March 2010, and one hopes they will find a sponsor to keep the ticket price reasonably within the reach of the common man. Why don’t corporate social responsibility departments of banks and companies take up the revival of theatre as a viable social issue to support?

Courtesy: Dawn Images

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Oct 25 2009

غیر معیاری اسٹیج ڈراموں کے خلاف قانون سازی کا فیصلہ

Category: Newsmansoor @ 10:29 am

لاہور: حکومت پنجاب نے غیر معیاری اسٹیج ڈراموں کے خلاف قانون سازی کا فیصلہ کرلیا ہے۔اسٹیج ڈراموں کی بہتری کے لیے کمیٹی تشکیل دے دی گئی۔ کمیٹی میں محکمہ پولیس پنجاب آرٹس کونسل ہوم ڈیپارٹمنٹ شامل ہوں گے جبکہ اسٹیج ڈراموں کے معیار کو جلد بہتری کی طرف لانے کے لیے 1976 ء کے ڈرامہ ایکٹ میں بھی ترمیم کی جائے گی۔

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Oct 25 2009

Theatrics: Take a chance on me

Category: Articlesmansoor @ 10:06 am

By Madeeha Syed
Sunday, 18 Oct, 2009

Mamma mia, here I go again
My my, how can I resist you?
Mamma mia, does it show again?
My my, just how much I’ve missed you….

After wowing us with Chicago, Nida Butt and Made for Stage is back with yet another musical, Mamma Mia. It comes under the genre of being a jukebox musical (one which uses previously released songs in its musical score) and was written by Catherine Johnson.

Both the play and the score of the musical are based on the songs of the hugely popular Swedish pop band Abba (active from 1972-1983), and although the story is fictional the title of the play has been borrowed from one of Abba’s 1975 hit songs. When it comes to the original Mamma Mia the musical, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Anderson (band members and main composers in Abba) were involved in its development. One of the female band members, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, had contributed financially. The last band member, Agnetha Fältskog, did not actively contribute to it but was present at its Swedish premiere and final show. According to statistics, Mamma Mia the musical (at least till 2007) had been seen by over 30 million people worldwide.

The story in itself is simple enough. Sophie Sheradon (played by Rachel Viccaji) is about to get married to Skye (Omar Bilal Akhtar) and wants her father to be present at her wedding. The only catch is that she doesn’t know who her father is since her mother, Donna Sheradon (Kiran Arshad Chaudhry), was intimately involved with three different men around the time Sophie was supposed to have been conceived. She chances upon her mom’s private diary and discovering the identity of the three men [Sam Carmichael (Aly Mustansir), Bill Anderson (Saad Rahim Zubair) and Harry Bright (Akbar Merchant)], she invites them to her wedding.

They arrive at the little Greek island where she lives simultaneously and promise Sophie that they won’t tell her mom that they’re here or why (cue song: Thank You for the Music). Donna discovers them anyway and is visibly shaken by their presence. Also attending the wedding are Donna’s old friends one of which is Tanya (Zoe Viccaji), a vivacious, high-maintenance, rich woman who has been married and divorced three times — and seems proud of it. The other is Rosie (Sanam Saeed), a carefree soul, unmarried and with a somewhat kooky sense of humour.

The play centres around Sophie — who has 24 hours before her wedding —trying to find out who her father is, dodging her mother, confessing what she did to her fiancé and getting ready for the wedding. It also focuses on Donna and the emotions she’s going through seeing her three old lovers back after 20 years all at once (cue song:

Mamma Mia), while trying to let go of Sophie as her only daughter is about to enter into the ‘second phase’ of her life (cue song Slipping through my Fingers). Tanya and Rosie are also focused on as the two friends who’re trying to be just that — good friends to Donna, provide her with support, cheer her up and try and adjust to the single bedroom that they’ve been given. They also have their own set of romantic interests, with one Skye’s friends actively making a move on Tanya (she brushes him off, singing Does your Mother Know?) and Rosie discovering that she’s attracted to Bill Anderson and tries to seduce him (Take a Chance on Me).

At the end of the story, Sophie decides it isn’t important for her to know who her father is after all. All three men are happy being one-third of her father for her. She also decides it isn’t important for her to get married to Skye at that time and Sam Carmichael seizes the opportunity to propose to Donna (cue song: I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do) since both of them are quite not over each other.

The local version of Mamma Mia has its moments. Other than the obvious play on nostalgia by featuring and being entirely focused on Abba’s music, the highlights of the musical are definitely the characters of Tanya and Rosie who invited laughter and applause from the audience for their cleverly delivered antics, and Sanam and Zoe’s chemistry as actors. Kiran Arshad Chaudhry, who has her own band Caramal, debuted in the musical as an actor, was natural in the delivery of her role and seemed to stand out as a vocalist during the singing sections.

Her rendition of the song, The Winner takes it All, was a testament to her powerhouse vocals that were heard loud and clear especially considering that there were numerous technical glitches in the sound on the opening day, with the music often seeming louder than the vocals. Rachel’s role as Sophie was completely different from the femme fatale Velma Kelly she plays in the second installment (and as the Hungarian inmate in the first installment) of Chicago. One can see she’s made a definite effort to try and embody the role of a sweet, innocent 20-year old who realises at times that she’s taken on more than she can handle.

At the end of it, Mamma Mia the musical isn’t the best production that Made for Stage has come out with, especially considering that there isn’t much depth to the story line — not visually as ‘happening’ as their previous showings. The interchangeable set designed by Barry was almost genius but the costumes at times became downright gaudy, perhaps intentionally. Having said that, Mamma Mia still has its moments — though they are few and far between — and will appeal to those who have even a slight interest or knowledge of Abba songs.

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Oct 13 2009

Sania Saeed

Category: Actresses,Sania Saeedmansoor @ 2:58 pm

Interview by Uzma Mazhar

Having known Sania Saeed since our childhood days and with a mutual background in theatre (I worked as an actor in Katha, a theatre group established by her father and later run by Sania and Shahid Shafaat together), the interview seemed like a long time coming.

Sania was busy watering plants when I reached her house in Gulistan-i-Johar. Her Siamese cat, Makkhan, was more than welcoming, giving us company while she wound up her chores. Once done, Sania sat with us for the interview answering some pricking and other run-of-the-mill queries relating to her career, increasing commercialism, theatre, drama production and her first television commercial — all of which she replied to without mincing her words.

Q. You have always been a thinking man’s actress. Comment.

A. Well, thank you! It’s a very hard-earned reputation and I enjoy and respect it. Although I see it just as a term I have come across while reading stuff about myself. But if that is so I think that is how it should be, shouldn’t it? I mean actors should make one think and if people feel that way about me, I’m flattered.

Q. Having said that and while you are known for meaningful characters, of late it seems that your caliber is being compromised.

A. Do you really think so? Secondly, what is meaningful is also questionable as only talking about a certain aspect of struggle in a woman’s life and in a certain way is not the only thing that is meaningful.

As an actor there aren’t many roles being written and I can only choose from what is being offered to me… I can’t create them myself. Let me ask you: do you have any role in mind that was done by someone else that should have been done by me? The word compromise could be coined for my work in Jhumka Jaan where we were short on time, the script kept changing while we were shooting which made me demand a bound script or else. But with the kind of limitations that we work in… no this is not an excuse for bad work but I still gave my hundred-and-one per cent to that project.

Q. So is Sania the actress stuck in a rut today?

A. I stick by the rule of one play at a time but there are many actresses whose dramas run on different channels at the same time. Is it my fault that when Jhumka Jaan was on air another channel chose to repeat 2004’s Thori Si Mohabaat around the same time? Or when Ghost was on air, Shayad Kay Bahar Aaye and Aur Zindagi Badalti Hai was repeated by the same channel which I did way back in 1999? Of late I haven’t done any serials so nothing will be going on air till next year.

And what is all this talk about “suit nahi kiya?” If I did the kind of roles that people think suit me, they would still say that “yaar, she is not a versatile actress.” I have nothing to say to them.

Q. It is said that an actress’s shelf life is very limited. How do you see this notion?

A. I don’t agree with it. It all depends on what kind of an actor you are and what industry you are working in. Secondly, it also depends on the kind of actor you were when you were young along with the kind of evolution the industry is going through. People such as Meryl Streep and others in her age bracket also face such problems in an industry as big as Hollywood.

Yes, looks do matter but there are women in our industry who have aged so gracefully such as Uzma Gillani, Samina Peerzada… they have done and are still doing varied roles so what’s shelf life? It is not that women stop existing after 40. What we actually need to do is create female actors that can act beyond 40.

Q. Drama critics say that you aspire to be the Shabana Azmi of Pakistan with an inclination towards social work. Are you the rebel with a cause?

A. I’ve never aspired to be Shabana Azmi as an actress as I have always admired the late Smita Patel more. I don’t take myself that seriously. I think everybody should do what they have an aptitude for. I am very lucky that I got the support and chances that I wanted and the way I wanted to do it. It is all about the issues you are sensitive about not about being a rebel with a cause.

Take a poet for example, he will not go out on the streets and shout about atrocities. Instead, he will write and put his protest in words. What an actor will do is that s/he will play certain characters. I have been very lucky in terms of television, though theatre was in accordance to what I initially and really wanted to do. I don’t think anybody got the chance to play better and different characters than I have been able to do during my career.

Q. Any plans to return to your first love, theatre?

A. Putting up a performance is a difficult proposition. We have decided to do theatre but we will only be able to stage it in June this year. Though it would be a busy time for Shahid and me, as we will be concentrating on our television work, the venues are booked. It makes us extremely happy that there is so much theatre happening in town with Napa, Sheema Kirmani’s Tlism festival that concluded recently, Ajoka and with a dance festival to be held in April by Sheema that there are no dates available.

While it is a positive sign, doing theatre all over the world is not easy. It is a very expensive medium even with limited props and no sets, auditorium bookings, publicity and stage lights. We are a group of five-eight people who have to make sets, act, write the script and get costumes ready. For a few acting is a full-time job while others will be putting in a lot of extra efforts. It is not like I tell them let’s do theatre and we’ll manage to perform the very next day. Nevertheless, we are determined to finally put up a performance.

Q. Previously you had restricted yourself to voiceovers in commercials but now you also appear in a high-end cellular company ad. Why?

A. Two things: 35 mm and then Saqib Malik was after me for the past 10 years. I am very fond of him plus he is a creative person so I said yes. The reason why I haven’t done commercials is I didn’t want to portray a stereotypical image of woman in an ad. Even though the ad also carries such an image but I did it from the fun point of view. I wanted to know what technically in terms of acting would be different for 35 mm and I realised this was even worse because it was only 30 seconds and I couldn’t prolong my expression. It was fun but quite a challenge.

I don’t know if I would do another commercial but it was seemingly harmless because it wasn’t that I was taking responsibility for any food item or a brand of fairness cream. It was after a long time that I got to work with Humayun Saeed also. The team was a nice bunch of young people who were excited to have me on board even though I argued about why we always portray women in the same light. But I liked the whole setup and they were open to my ideas and my bantering which was fun.

Q. You have lived a very private life and curbed rumours regarding your personal and professional life while staying in the limelight. How did you manage?

A. I keep to myself mostly and I also think that an actor’s work is there for public consumption but not their private lives. It is like you don’t share their pain when they are old or when they are in poor health. I take acting as my job and all this blown-out-of-proportion media jargon is mind-boggling. Actors are normal human beings and they have the same emotional problems that anybody else does. They have an edge because they are more sensitive which proves to be a negative trait at times. I don’t want to lead my life for the four people who appreciate me or see me in a particular way.

Q. The grapevine has it that you were to an extent responsible for the Fuzon breakup and that you made the wrong decision by becoming their manager?

A. It’s the people who don’t know me… what can I say to them? They will believe whatever they want to. The people who know me, the people who have worked with me and those who matter to me can judge it themselves if I was capable of breaking up a band. I have nothing to say to counter wagging tongues.

Courtesy: Dawn Images April 05, 2009

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Oct 13 2009

Nargis’ spiritual sight

Category: Articlesmansoor @ 2:34 pm

While Hollywood actresses join academies to polish their acting talent and Bollywood gals sweat it out every which they can to hog media attention, our very own Lollywood pirouetting uncut diamonds visit Sufi saints’ shrines to seek blessings so that the lustre on their careers doesn’t come off. And it’s not eve the A-league lot I’m referring to.

Nargis, the girl who has earned many an ogling fan by virtue of her pelvic-popping ability, is a bit worried. It appears her Lahore stage career is not going places (literally) the way she thought it would. So recently she was seen at a revered shrine in Pakpattan to ward off her fears. You thought she was seeking tauba? Silly you!

Hmm… the less said about this the better. All I can say is “holy cow!”

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Oct 13 2009

Ajoka steps forward

Category: Articlesmansoor @ 10:17 am

Ajoka Theatre’s credentials are beyond doubt. Over the years the group has done innumerable plays that have not only entertained the audiences locally and across the border but made them put their thinking caps on.

Naturally, if something despicable like the Gojra incident happens, Ajoka people get hurt. As a result, the group is staging three of its plays in Lahore from Aug 18, and has titled the event Peace, Tolerance and Communal Harmony.

It’s an event ‘dedicated to the victims of the Gojra riots and countless other who have lost their lives because of religious intolerance and extremism’.

Who wants to follow suit?

Courtesy: Dawn Images

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Oct 11 2009

Chekhov’s ‘ The Seagull ‘ staged at Arts Council

Category: Articlesmansoor @ 3:10 pm

Chekov comes to the Karachi stage
Anton Chekhov’s brilliant masterpiece ‘The Seagull’ was staged at Arts Council where marvellous characters showed how twist and turns of fate lead a loving couple to tragic end.
The play was written in 1896 and is set in a rural Russian house, a place near the lake and some old trees. The plot focuses on the romantic and artistic conflicts among an eclectic group of characters; the interaction slowly leads to an oral and spiritual disintegration of each of them and which ultimately leads to the tragic end. The cast and crewmembers of Napa Theatre did full justice to their roles and under the direction of Zia Mohyuddin gave a commendable performance.
The plot revolves around the lives of four characters, the ing_nue Nina (brilliantly played by Aiman Tariq), the fading actress Irina Arkadina (the commanding Bakhtawar Mazhar), her son the symbolist playwright Konstantin Treplyov (young and enthusiastic Saquib Khan), and the famous middlebrow story writer Trigorin (inacted by the charming Rahat Kazmi).
The play takes place on a country estate owned by Sorin (the gentle old man ), a former government employee with falling health. He is the brother of the famous actress Arkadina, who has just arrived at the estate with her lover, Trigorin, for a brief vacation. In Act I, the people staying at Sorin’s estate gather to see a silly play that Arkadina’s son Konstantin has written and directed. The play-within-a-play stars Nina, a young girl who lives on a neighbouring estate, as the “soul of the world.”

The play is his latest attempt at creating a new theatrical form, and resembles a dense symbolist work. Arkadina laughs at the play, finding it ridiculous and incomprehensible, while Konstantin storms off in disgrace. Act I also sets up the play’s many romantic triangles.
The schoolteacher Medvedenko loves Masha (Naila Jaffrey), the daughter of the estate’s steward. Masha, in turn, is in love with Konstantin, who is courting Nina. When Masha tells the kindly old doctor Dorn about her longing, he helplessly blames the moon and the lake for making everybody feel romantic.
Act II takes place in the afternoon outside of the estate, a few days later. After reminiscing about happier times, Arkadina engages the house steward Shamrayev in a heated argument and decides to leave immediately. Nina lingers behind after the group leaves, and Konstantin shows up to give her a seagull that he has shot. Nina is confused and horrified at the gift. Konstantin sees Trigorin approaching, and leaves in a jealous fit. Nina asks Trigorin to tell her about the writer’s life. He replies that it is not an easy one. Nina says that she knows the life of an actress is not easy either, but she wants more than anything to be one. Trigorin sees the seagull that Konstantin has shot and muses on how he could use it as a subject for a short story: “A young girl lives all her life on the shore of a lake. She loves the lake, like a seagull, and she’s happy and free, like a seagull. But a man arrives by chance, and when he sees her, he destroys her, out of sheer boredom. Like this seagull.”
















(Photographs by Tahir Jamal/ White Star)

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Oct 06 2009

70’s Unplugged (Theater) on Geo Tv

Category: Geo Family Festival,Geo Tvmansoor @ 3:15 pm






70’s Unplugged (Theater)

Do you miss the hippie 70s? The beehive hairdo? The bell bottoms and the swinging music? Its all back and in style! Dr Younis Butt writes a hilarious comedy of errors where a girl is trapped in a boy’s hostel. Performed by leading film artist Veena Malik and Shamil Khan recorded in front of a live audience. Get ready for entertainment that’s unplugged.

Cast: Iftikhar Thakur, Shamil Khan, Veena Malik, Nosheen Agha, Ahmed Abdul Rehman, Anwar Ali & Agha Abbas,
Writer : Dr Younis Butt


Click here to watch Part A
Click here to watch Part B




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Apr 30 2009

Stage Drama Taleem-e-Balghan on Ptv

Category: Ptv,Taleem-e-Balghanmansoor @ 10:47 pm

Taleem-e-Balghan’ has no equal when it comes to quality comedy dramas. Qazi Wajid, Subhani Ba Younus among a host of other notable actors delight viewers as students studying under the watchful eyes of Mehmood Ali. The slightest act of indiscipline invites a beating from Mehmood Ali who carries a flexible whipping stick that could be mistaken for his third arm – he is that comfortable using his stick and uses it to good effect. But you can’t maintain discipline for long with students of such diverse vocations (barber, butcher, milkman, landlord etc) all studying together under one roof – with the result that the stick features more than any of the actors in this play.
taleem

Director: Agha Nasir

Writer: Khawaja Moinuddin

Cast:

Mahmood Ali, Subhani Bayounus, Qazi Wajid, Bakhtiyar Ahmad, Qasim Jalali, Sheikh Mehboob, Sheikh Ali Ahmad, Razia Sultana





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Pakistani Dramas

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