Napa theatre in need of attention

Published November 27, 2020
Napa’s theatre has suffered significant damage.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
Napa’s theatre has suffered significant damage.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: The effects of devastating torrential rains that lashed entire Karachi this August, leaving in their wake civic disruptions of the worst kind, still haven’t gone away. A case in point is the main theatre hall of the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa), along with its basement and a room used for conducting classes, which is still not ready for professional use.

The rainwater that found its way into the halls damaged the wooden floor, seating arrangements and equipment that is essential for a stage production. As a result, the academy is trying to make do with available facilities in order for the classes to carry on without interruption.

Talking to Dawn, Napa’s director programmes Arshad Mahmud said, “The rain in August was unprecedented. It caused a lot of damage to our theatre. Since the drains were not working, water from outside [main road] entered the premises and wreaked havoc. We have requested the provincial and federal governments to help us a little in restoring the theatre.”

Talking about the nature and amount of damage, he said, “The wooden floors in the main auditorium and basement were affected. They got swollen up. Then rainwater reached the first row of seats too. We would [after the downpour subsided] every day try and take out the water but the next day we would find the same amount of water in the area. So it took us 20 to 22 days just to drain it out.

Academy’s theatre, basement damaged during August’s rain spell

“Also, there were props. Then the most expensive part of it all was the sound equipment and computers. We kept the computers in sunshine for days hoping they’d work again, to no avail. Even in my office there was a great deal of water.”

It appears that the main structure of the Napa building didn’t suffer that much but it’s the performance halls that bore the brunt of the weather. As of now, because of the pandemic, the academy is unable to expedite work. But the fear is that if even after the pandemic it doesn’t get fixed then it will take three to four months for things to get back to normal.

“You see it’s an in-house theatre, therefore we need to take classes here. In the initial period for students, you don’t require much space. But when they move on with courses, in order to do a drama, you need a larger space. We had seen in the newspapers that there was some flood relief fund announced by the Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, which was why [we] have requested him to look into the matter,” Mr Mahmud added.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2020

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