Published in The News International
With Pakistan’s film industry stepping up and television going hyper over TV dramas, breaking news and current affairs, it is refreshing to see some good theatrical work filter through the entertainment industry every now and then. Credit goes to people like Faisal Malik, who are fully devoted to the task of reviving theater in Pakistan in all its manifestations. Instep caught up with the director during 2nd String Puppetry Festival that is running in full swing these days.
Instep: What brings you close to theater?
Faisal Malik (FM): I believe that theatre is the strongest form of arts as it offers an intimate environment to communicate your thoughts to a captive audience.
Instep: When was Thespianz Theater (TT) founded and what were the objectives behind it?
FM: It was officially founded in 2005. TT is committed to the promotion of performing arts in all its trajectories. Our plays have been highlighting important social issues such as drugs prevention, gender inequality, women’s rights, piracy, education, HIV Aids and water scarcity, among others. So far we have performed over 50 plays.
Instep: Do you think theater may serve as an agent of social change?
FM: Theatre is a blend of entertainment and awareness. Like any other field of performing arts, it entertains and educates viewers at the same time.
Instep: In today’s digital age what made you branch out to String Puppetry?
FM: The core objective was to come forward and rescue the art of string puppetry from getting extinct in Pakistan. We staged more than 300 performances highlighting different social issues in 79 different areas across Karachi.
Instep: What does the second edition promise to offer and what makes it different from the first event?
FM: TT was the first who arranged the longest String Puppetry Festival and that too for the very first 1st time in Pakistan in 2016-17. The second edition that commenced from January 14 and will run till July 31 is bigger than last year; with 330 shows in 11 different areas of Karachi, the main objective of TT is to promote art in all its manifestations and at the same time educate people, especially children, through social messages. It would be an acid test for us as how to draw audience towards puppetry promoting our cultural values through these performances which have been designed to cater to all communities.
Instep: How do you make your plays relatable?
FM: The geographical diversity of our five provinces makes our culture very rich and our folk dances and music bring add to its beauty. We make sure our performances present a nice blend of flavours from all cultures to a diverse audience.
Instep: To sustain a business its commercial viability matters the most. How do you find theater in that perspective?
FM: Theater is not commercially viable. It might become one by expanding the demographics drastically as it would attract diverse audience. I therefore emphasize on Urdu theater and in future TT would come up with more plays offering unlimited entertainment to viewers.
– Coordination: Yousaf Farooq Solangi