KARACHI: “To be a part of Napa’s 10th founding anniversary is a very gratifying experience. I never imagined myself being around long enough to be part of the celebrations, and see the seed that we planted grow into a healthy plant, about to become a tree,” said Zia Mohyeddin, veteran actor, producer and president of the National Academy of Performing Arts.
The festivities were held on Napa’s premises on Thursday and attracted a varied crowd — board members, the faculty, students past and present as well as a range of well-wishers.
Napa’s journey may seem short, yet it has come a long way in shaping minds, and performances of the creative minds that form its student body. It has managed to inculcate a sense of tradition as well as pride among all associated with it and the genuine love for it could be felt at the celebration.
It would have greatly added to the authenticity of the gathering had a more documented effort been made towards introducing the history behind Napa’s inception, and memories been shared by the founding members.
Arshad Mahmud, director of programmes and administration, shared vivid experiences of his journey at Napa. He recalled that in 2004, “under the direction of Zia Mohyeddin, a group of talented actors and directors decided to set up Napa. Many creative heads were attracted to this project, some of whom were celebrities in their own right — Rahat Kazmi, Nafees Ahmad, Talat Hussain.”
Arshad spoke about how it was a very uncertain time: “Developing the curriculum was one of the most difficult yet exciting tasks at hand. The first three years were full of anxiety as we were at the privileged position to introduce new teaching methods and the curriculum also needed to be shaped accordingly.”
For former student and current faculty member Uzma Sabeen, it was “an honour to be affiliated with Napa since its inception”. Uzma was a student of theatre arts and is now actively teaching as well as directing plays in collaboration with Napa. Her latest venture, Sau din chor ke, opened to rave reviews. She credits her successes to the administration as well as the dedicated faculty.
“When Napa was conceived, a platform of such a kind was greatly missing in Karachi. I was lucky enough to be a part of it and be surrounded by people who not only honed my talents but also encouraged me to pursue this field.”
Uzma teaches improvisation and production fundamentals at Napa. She is also involved in teaching the art of stage lighting and is very proud to be involved in this particular element of theatre.
“It is essential for women to be involved in the technical aspects of theatre, too, which in many places is ‘run’ only by men.”
Her message was clear: Napa is not one such place.
Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2015