In the recent theatre festival that took place at Alhamra Arts Council, Lahore, Sirimiri Productions presented a bilingual play titled “Yeh Shahra-e-Aam Nahi" written by Shahzaib Bukhari, directed by Habib Chaudhry, and co-directed by Afaq Imran.

The English translation of the play was initially performed at the American Academy of Performing Arts (AADA) in New York.

Using almost every theatrical technique which one comes across while studying theatre formally, the play revolved around a writer for whom it is difficult to choose between his family life and his writings. To elaborate, the artist loves his work as well as his wife and wishes to keep his family satisfied and in a good financial condition, but his job as a writer in this cruel world does not let him lead a well-off life. He is often found waiting for good opportunities and for well-known, affluent companies to ask him to write for them. The real problem lies in choosing between a less burdensome life involving waywardness and passion only, and a responsible life in which duties towards the family are to be fulfilled.

Eventually, the writer is forced to strangle his wife to death by his imagined characters who he feels talk to him, for so finely he has grown in his craft of writing. Thus, the idea “Yeh Shahra e Aam Nahi" gets associated with the field of art, suggesting that it is not an area for ordinary men to choose for themselves since it requires a lot of pain and tough decisions.

The decision, however, does not turn out to be a satisfying one and results in agony and a painful realization of a mistake having been committed.

On the whole, the play presented various ways in which a man is held bound and is forced to act like a puppet being controlled. It started off with a man like an acrobat forced to act in silly ways at times for an earning. The English parts of the play were conversations between humans trying to live a free life but being held back by tempting satans. The three ideas connected to present the idea of a common man's helplessness.

The cast of the play included Humza Ghayyur Akhtar (Son of the legendary Ghayyur Akhtar), Sheikh Mubashir (Hatim from HUM TV's “Darr Si Jati Hai Sila"), Shabnam Rehmat, Zainab Kayani, Muneeb Ahmad Malik, Bilal Azeem, Keyaan Saleem Nasir, M Dawood Khan and Rabia Javed.

Considering that it was the very first performance of the theatrical company and was their introduction to the audience through this festival, slight short-comings related to the clarity of voice can be covered with the much better and modern techniques of presentation and the strong story-line that dominated and made it watchable.

Wishing Sirimiri Productions the best of luck with its upcoming performances.

Picture Credit: Sirimiri Productions