Theatre has always been an art form which is extremely effective in inspiring and uniting communities by engaging audiences through entertaining and thought-provoking performances and dialogues. Through this interactive form of entertainment, awareness on social issues is raised and possible solutions to prevailing problems are sought. Recognizing the strong impact of this artistic medium, the Capacity Institutionalization Team at Community World Service Asia held a seven-day residential workshop titled, Theater for Development this June in a hill-station training centre in Murree.
The workshop was attended by twenty-three participants from parts of Sindh and Punjab and aimed at building the capacity of these participants, closely working with local, vulnerable communities to build awareness on social issues through theatre. Techniques on effective theatre plays for social advocacy were taught at the training while also providing participants a multidimensional experience of learning through theory analysis and behavior study of different age groups. This learning opportunity enabled them to explore the fundamentals of theatre, art of creating stories, improvisation with groups and how to inculcate issue based content into an effective theatre performance.
Sarfraz Ansar, Actor, Director and Vocalist, with a vast experience of 25 years and having conducted over a thousand theatre performances at national and international levels was the lead facilitator at the training. While, Idrees Ali Khan, theater performer, puppet maker and cultural activist for the last thirty years was the co facilitator. Idrees Ali has an expertise of directing more than a hundred plays on social issues in partnership with leading civil society organizations. Both the facilitators were from Azad theater Pakistan.
The training contents were developed around three major themes; Essentials and Fundamentals for Theater – this theme included various components namely body language, communication, expression, rhythm, emotions, images, and trust building; the second theme, Theatre Development, included a history of theatre, script writing, storytelling, improvisation for the street, challenges and opportunities and theatre techniques; while the final theme focused on production and performance with an emphasis on the importance of costumes, lighting, sets and back stage design.
At the workshop closing session, Liaqat Ali Tameemi, Executive Coordinator of Doaba Foundation participated as the chief guest to distribute Awards and certificates among workshop participants and formally closed the training. He thanked and acknowledged the efforts of Community World Service Asia and the Azad Theatre Pakistan and stressed on a need for a follow up of this workshop to ensure its sustainability.