Ajoka treats Karachi
For 3 days at the Arts Council, Karachi was treated to the most riveting performances by Ajoka, a theater group headed by Madeeha Gauhar. The series of three plays, called ‘Theater in the times of Jihad’, was a theatrical experience that gripped its audience from beginning to end. I was unfortunate to have missed the first two performances- Burqavaganza and Bulla; but Hotel MoenjoDaro, the last play of the series, left no room for regrets.
The musical satire was an adaptation of Ghulam Abbas’s short story in Urdu called Dhanak. While the topic was pretty cliched for the modern day but what made it awe-inspiring was the fact that the story written more than 40 years ago, and yet, seemed to ring just as true for today as it may have then.
The play, which lasted for a little over an hour, turned out to be an emotional roller coaster. Sitting in the audience, one expected a serious play touching upon terrorism and suicide bombers, yet the play took off with a truly inspiring note where a Pakistani had just landed on the moon. From then on, the play quickly shifted its gear into light-hearted comedy, something that the play retained even at the most intense moments. As the play progressed the audience was exposed to theatrical excellence in large doses.
While the actors and dancers gave a memorable performance, the true magic was created by those off the stage. The narration, the lighting, the set designing, the choreography and the sound that set the mood of the play, and allowed the audience to witness the colorful chaos that Ghulam Sahab had envisaged in his book almost half a century ago.
Karachi, a city deprived of such cultural activities, is hoping Ajoka will revisit the city again soon to stage the other plays in its portfolio.