KARACHI: The National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) and the British Council have collaborated to stage ‘Fasana-i-Ajaaib’, an Urdu version of William Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’ directed by Gregory Thompson, from Aug 28 to Aug 31.
This was announced by the artistic director of the Napa Repertory Theatre, Zain Ahmed, at a press conference on Friday evening.
He said the play was relevant to Pakistani culture. Even those who were not familiar with Shakespeare’s works would enjoy it, as it had moments of mirth and sadness in equal measure. He told the media that Mr Thompson had been working with Napa’s actors for the past two months and despite the fact that he didn’t understand Urdu, he was able to direct the performers. If the effort came off well on stage, the play would travel to other cities of the country, he said.
British Council’s Sumbul Khan said the council and Napa had a longstanding relationship starting from 2008 when they did a project based on a Charles Dickens story. She added that it was their aim to nurture the budding talent.
Arshad Mahmud said Shakespeare’s plays were timeless.
Mr Thompson said Shakespeare in a way created the English language. By doing ‘The Winter’s Tale’ in Urdu, “We’re taking away one part of his genius, so what remains is the story’, he said and argued that while directors were important in any theatrical production, in this case the performance would take place in the hearts and minds of the audience. He said the actors-audience relationship would mirror the story of the play, as in the second half of the drama the audience would be allowed to enter the stage.
Set and costume designer Louie Whitemore said it was an exciting experience for her to work on the project.
Some of the actors (Sunil Shankar, Fawad Khan, Aimen Tariq and Akbar Islam) shared their feelings as well. They were all praise for the director saying it was a learning experience for them to work with him.
Responding to a question about the play’s relevance to Pakistani society, Mr Thompson said he had read a story in the British press about a woman being stoned for adultery. In ‘Fasana-i-Ajaib’ also there was a woman accused of adultery.
Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2014
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