Theatre has deep roots in subcontinent


In line with its ongoing efforts to document, preserve and promote indigenous folk culture and heritage of Pakistan, the National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) has published a book on “Forgotten Faces – Daring women of Pakistan’s Folk Theatre’ by Dr Fouzia Saeed.
The launching-ceremony of the book was organised at the Lok Virsa Media Studios on Thursday. National Heritage and Integration Secretary Faridullah Khan was the chief guest on the occasion.
In his opening remarks, Khan said, “Theatre has deep-rooted history in the subcontinent. It has been an indigenous expression for the polarities of human life, like happiness and sadness, calamities and miracles, heroes and villains, and romances and tragedies. South Asian culture being an oral one 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 said.
He congratulated Lok Virsa and Dr Fouzia Saeed for their efforts in bringing out the publication and expressed hope that the initiative would 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 Executive Director Khalid Javaid said, “The book in question focuses primarily on the daring women of Pakistan’s folk theatre. Lok Virsa is a specialised culture and research-oriented organisation established in 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 said the mission of Lok Virsa was to foster the excellence, diversity and vitality of all facets of tradition and to broaden public access to the 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 intended 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 of Lok Virsa Dr Shamim M Zaidi, who is presently heading the Department of Communication at the Fatima Jinnah Women University, praised for the author for her contribution.
A large number of people related to the folk theatre, besides general public also attended the event. The launching ceremony was followed by live performances featuring Abida (daughter of the outstanding theatre artist of her time Balli Jatti), Naznin Mano, Fazal Jat and Saima.