Pak version of 'Taming of the Shrew' to set Globe on fire!
Despite govt negligence, 'Ilaaje Zid Dastiyaab Hay' all set to make way to Olympics
By Saira Agha
“Theatre is dead in Pakistan,” wails a bewildered Nadia Jamil. “The government just doesn’t care about arts and entertainment in our country anymore,” she adds. Nadia stars as Kiran (Kate) in the Pakistani adaptation of William Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’, to be held at London Olympics 2012, at the Globe.
‘Ilaaje Zid Dastiyaab Hay’ is an amazing rendition of Shakespeare’s play, which consists of some of the most distinguished actors and actresses of Pakistan, a multi-talented cast which includes, Omair Rana, Nadia Jamil, Salman Shahid, Zeb Bangash, Usman Khalid Butt and Maria Khan among others. The play is produced by Susannah Harris Wilson under the directorial prowess of Haissam Hussain. The music and background score will be provided by the much-acclaimed ‘Mikaal Hassan Band’, under the music direction of Valerie Kaul. PR is being done by Latitude.
One would think that this perfect arrangement could not have asked for more, the magnificent cast and dream crew could not have been more ideal, but how is it managing and getting on with the preparations is a struggle infused by passion.
Haissam Hussain says, “We are rehearsing in science labs and on rooftops, rather than on stages, all due to shortage of money, and government’s zero contribution to the play.”
The love for theatre with which these artists are rehearsing, sometimes without food and proper spaces is a point to be noted. Why does not the government of Pakistan realise how important it is to showcase our country’s talent on international forums where mostly we are perceived so vehemently and openly as terrorists? Why is it not a time to tell the world what we have to offer in terms of comedy, talent and drama?
“We want colours, festivals, laughter and comedy instead of bombs and bloodshed,” Nadia Jamil says. Susannah Harris Wilson almost sounds pleading, “We really want funds and attention from the government.”
“We could have spent money on costumes from Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Punjab where the play is set. We could have afforded rehearsals with our live musicians and a dance choreographer had the government aided,” says Haissam Hussain.
“The government will throw away money like royalties for a one night singing show by some female singer, clearing the lot right for that clandestine performance, so they could empty their pockets on mindless crooning,” says Omair Rana.
The question is why? Why does not the government realise how important this play is for Pakistan, as it truly is the first time that a play from our country is being held at the Olympics.
“We badly need the government’s support to take pride in Team Pakistan going to the Olympics 2012, for the cultural Olympiad at one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious stages, ‘The Globe’,” cries Haissam Hussain.
One wonders what could it be and why such ignorance from our leaders? Where are they? “I think the big elephant in the room is the recession,” says Valerie Kaul. “That’s the only thing that comes to my mind when I think of the government’s negligence and the blind eye to the play.”
Whatever the reason may be, this fearless and theatre-loving cast and crew has not stopped. If they’re struggling with paying the musicians, they have resorted to remarkable alternative means. If they’re going hungry while preparing, they’re dreaming about the fruits of the final performance. If they’re vying for financial support, they have their noses up knowing the outcome of the play. If they’re nervous about the D-day, they know in their hearts how amazingly talented they are.
“Nadia is to theatre as duck is to water,” says Susannah Harris Wilson, in utter and sheer awe for Nadia Jamil. “The Mikaal Hassan Band is just phenomenal. Their music blows one away,” says Valerie Kaul. “Zeb Bangash is a performer and not just a musician. Her stage presence is just inevitable,” Valerie and Susannah both stress. “Haissam’s direction is spot on. He’s just so seasoned in his approach,” Nadia says. “Nadia’s not only a passionate and a committed professional actress, but she is also the best actress in the country right now, and one of the only actresses I know who has been trained and worked professionally in theatre. She is perfect,” remarks Haissam Hussain. “Usman and Salman are the best thing that happened to the play,” says Susannah Harris Wilson, adding, “Maria’s performance cannot go unnoticed. She’s just superb with her body language. You have just got to see her perform.” Valerie Kaul nods in agreement, saying, “As if already Maria’s character was not so well-chalked out, she performed like a professional. Deserves a standing ovation, that girl.”
“Usman and Salman just add fuel to the raging fire of talent that the play is offering,” says Nadia Jamil. “Omair Rana is making a big difference by offering so much to the play with his immense talent,” says Susannah Harris Wilson. “I’m so proud of the cast. They inspire me and excite me to come up with new ideas! They are a supremely talented and hard working bunch and I know they will go far,” says Haissam Hussain.
Some initial sponsors refused and backed out at the last hour, but ‘Ilaaje Zid Dastiyaab Hay’ seems to be doing pretty well, with some eight other sponsors offering a helping hand. If immense talent and a deep-rooted passion go together, then a person would know no boundaries, no walls and no hurdles. This is exactly what we have in the form of this play, which is in full zeal to set the mighty Globe on fire! This is not just a play, it’s a sharp reminder of how achingly talented Pakistanis are, how we never say never, and how we keep shutting up the naysayers by our spirit to succeed.
Susannah Harris Wilson sums up our country’s talent in these words, “Pakistan is a beautiful version and translation of culture.”