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Theatre roots back to sub-continent

By Sheerein Sheikh

ISLAMABAD – In line with it's on-going efforts to document, preserve and promote indigenous folk culture and heritage of Pakistan, National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage; Lok Virsa, published a book entitled 'Forgotten Faces--Daring women of Pakistan’s folk theatre' by Dr. Fouzia Saeed. The launching ceremony of the book took place, here at Lok Virsa Media Studios, Shakarparian. Faridullah Khan, federal secretary for National Heritage and Integration was the chief guest at the occasion.

In his opening remarks, the chief guest said “Theatre has deep routed history in the sub-continent. It has been an indigenous expression for those polarities of human life, like happiness and sadness, calamities and miracles, heroes and villains, and romances and tragedies. South Asia being an oral culture, has counted on story-telling as one of its main modes of transferring cultural knowledge from one generation to the next. The story-telling, over a period of time, has become the major source of entertainment for rural masses”.

“I think Lok Virsa has taken a right step in this direction by publishing the book, for which they certainly deserve a great appreciation”, the secretary maintained. The chief guest congratulated Lok Virsa and Dr. Fouzia Saeed, the author of the book for their efforts in bringing out the publication. He expressed hope that this initiative taken by Lok Virsa will go a long way in acquainting our youth community not only about this dying art form but also contributions of our theatre artists in the past.In his welcoming speech, Lok Virsa’s executive director Khalid Javaid said “The book in question focuses primarily on the daring women of Pakistan’s folk theatre. Lok Virsa is a specialized culture and research oriented organization established in the year 1974 with a mandate for collection, documentation, preservation and dissemination of all forms of Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage. This includes both tangible and intangible heritage. Over the years, this unique institute has made landmark achievements in the field of culture for which it is today known the world over.”

Khalid Javaid maintained, “Lok Virsa’s mission is to foster the excellence, diversity and vitality of all facets of tradition and to broaden public access to this knowledge. Lok Virsa is committed to document and revive folk culture to ensure a strong link of our society with the indigenous layers of our heritage. The role of women in performing arts has been a theme which has not received the attention it deserves. Dr. Fouzia Saeed did pioneering research on this theme, when she herself was a part of this institute. We are proud that she, on our request, took on to further this work and add to her research."

Lok Virsa intends to revive folk theatre and encourage folk music, folk dancing and other forms of folk entertainment, so that the youth should learn about their own roots and get inspired, he added. Former director Lok Virsa Dr. Mrs. Shamim M Zaidi who is presenting heading the department of communication at the Fatima Jinnah Women University also spoke on the occasion and praised for the contribution of the author.

A large number of people related to the folk theatre, besides general public also attended the event. The launching ceremony was followed by the live performances featuring Abida (daughter of the outstanding theatre artist of her time Balli Jatti), Naznin Mano, Fazal Jat and Saima. The audience enjoyed the thrilling performances of the artists.

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