Theatre on wheels: Silent young actors fall back on music and gestures to convey tough messages

Sameer Sheikh News & Media December 20, 2019

Published in Express Tribune


Homosexuality, AIDS, promiscuity and unprotected sex were the main themes of the Karachi Goethe-Institut’s Flying Theatre on Tuesday, conveyed by solely relying on Bollywood music and body language.

Due to the sensitivity of the topics, director Faisal Malik had made a conscious decision not to use dialogue.

The 40-minute play, titled ‘Hawas’, was organised by the Goethe-Insitut and Thespianz Theatre. Keeping in line with the concept of a mobile theatre, it was staged on a truck.

The story revolves around a man who is interested in both men and women. The protagonist, played by Sikander Arif, accompanied by an actress performs the song Ishq Sufiana from the movie Dirty Picture at the beginning of the play. The performance helps establish his relationships with female partners while in the next scene Arif is shown befriending a boy.

What follows is a blossoming friendship, romance or a relationship of convenience between the two, depicted through selected Bollywood songs such as Maa ka Ladla, which was a hit with the audience.

The last sequence of the play shows both boys in anguish and only then are words used, that too in written form, when Arif holds up a placard which says HIV/AIDS. The play ends on a somber note as Arif collapses on stage.

“We just wanted to convey to young people that casual physical relationships with strangers are not a good idea,” said the director, while explaining why he chose this particular theme. He added that not enough theatre groups are focusing on HIV/Aids which is on the rise among the youth in Pakistan. The mobile theatre will perform in other cities and in two months will travel to Sukkur and Hyderabad. One of the performers, newbie Nabeel Shoukat, was ecstatic about the experience and the response it received. “It was a great experience. We only practiced for a week, but the result turned out to be great.”

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