6th Theatre Festival

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The 6th ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ Festival was held in Multan at Multan Arts Council from 11-13 December 2006. It was inaugurated by City District Nazim Faisal Mukhtar.

Support form Trocaire, South Asian Partnership-Pakistan, Church World Service and Shama Banaspati made it possible to organize the festival. Each day of the three-day festival was reserved for a specific theme. The first day of the festival focused on women rights, second day on education, peace and environment and third day on bonded labour and Hari rights. The details are as following;

DAY 1

Issue: Women Rights

The first performance of the day was by ‘Multan Theatre Group’ and it was based on a true story of a girl who was raped by her suitor when she and her family refused to marry him because of his immoral attitude. The girl had to face resistance from her family, the police and overall justice system when she decided to sought justice.

Since it was interactive theatre festival, so after the performance some members of the audience were invited on stage to replace the character of Razia in an effort to change the situation. The participants commented on flaws of justice system. The play ended on a consensus that to change such practices from the society we need to stand up and speak for such crimes.

The second performance of the day by Channan Theatre Group revolved around the life of a girl Rano who was raped by her cousin in a hostel. The family wanted to pursue justice but could not as the witnesses were only girls and a non-Muslim. The play highlighted various lapses in justice system and the affects of discriminatory laws.

The third performance by Indus theatre group was though, in Sindhi yet it was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. The play presented the male perspective of domestic violence issue. It highlighted how violent practices in the society seep into the family system where the sufferers are mostly women. The performers stressed that when the male members speak against different oppressions in society it is not right for them to be the oppressor when they deal with their own family.

DAY 2

Issues: Education, Peace & Environment

The first play of that day was performed by Mandwa Group (Lahore). It was a musical play on the issue of peace process between India and Pakistan. Point of view of both the parties was brought into lime light. It was stressed that how war and terror affect the social system and thus, how the basic needs of the general people are ignored.

The play beautifully depicted the contribution of cricket and other cultural activities in normalizing the tension between the two countries.

The second performance by Murk Theatre Group highlighted the problems faced by local fisherman and agriculturist due to the dumping of factory waste in Mancher Lake. The play brought into notice government’s negligence and apathetic attitude of people towards solving their problems.

The third play ‘Mar Nahin Piyar’ (Love Not Torture) by Multan Theatre Group focused on government’s policy which addressed the issue of beating by teachers in schools. The play stressed that meaningful actions are only possible when policies are implemented with proper consultation, feedback and behavior change campaigns.

DAY 3

Issues: Bonded labour & Hari rights

On 3rd day the first play was performed by Parbhat Theatre Group and it depicted life of a Hari family (Sharecropper) and their sufferings during floods in Sindh. They were forced to work in the fields flooded with poisonous water, snakes and other insects to get the money for the treatment of their daughter suffering from infection caused by polluted water.

Hameeda Theatre Group was the second group to perform that day and their performance was based on gender discrimination issue. The play revolved around the life of a woman, mother of five daughters, who was tortured by her in-laws as she was not able to give birth to any male offspring.

It was realized that this is a complex situation as not only in-laws, most of the time females own families also don’t support them .Nonetheless, The participants stressed that the woman should take a firm stand on the issue and should not submit to the pressure. They also discussed various aspects of gender discrimination in syllabus and other societal attitudes.

The third play of the day by Multan Theatre Group was on the issues of labourers in brick kiln units. It was a story of various families who under pressure from debtor were engaged in bonded labour.

The festival ended with a note where participants were urged to stop playing a passive role in society and become a catalyst agent to change such situations.

The last day of the festival was also attended by labourers freed from bondage besides general communities.

Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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