Lahore (Qasim Ali)
Pakistan’s premier theatre group, Ajoka, launched its 40 anniversary programme at an event held at Alhamra, which was attended by representatives of cultural organizations and Ajoka stalwarts. Speakers paid glowing tribute to the four decade long contribution of Ajoka Theatre in promoting socially meaningful theatre in Pakistan.They made special mention of Ajoka founder and theatre icon (late) Madeeha Gauhar for dedication to theatre.
Speakers included, Ms Beenish Fatima Sahi, DG Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture, Former executive director Alhamra Zulfiqar Ali Zulfi, Ajoka actors Tahira Imam, Uzma Hasan, noted writer and artist Feryal Gauhar, Ajoka Institute Director Nirvaan Nadeem and Ajoka General Secretary Sohail Warraich. Secretary Info & Culture Daniyal Gilani also graced the event. Video messages from Indian theatre personalities director Neelam Mansingh Chaudhary and Playwright/director Kewal Dhaliwal, Tehriki-Niswan founder and dancing maestro Sheema Kermani and eminent artist Savera Nadeem were also screened. Two new Ajoka songs were also presented at the launch event by Ajoka singing group including Naseem Abbas, Usman Raj, Muhammad Qaiser, Kanwal Christopher and Aniqa Malik.
A video report on four decades of Ajoka was also screened Ajoka Executive Director Shahid Nadeem announced plans for the 40 anniversary year, which include A 4 day theatre festival including representative Ajoka plays of the last four decades in April at Alhamra A 3-day Ajoka Theatre Festival at PNCA and Islamabad Club in March, Performances of Ajoka’s acclaimed play “Dara” in Karachi in June and October. An Ajoka Theatre festival in Amritsar on 1-7 july Well known Indian theatre artists will perform Ajoka plays. Representatives of Ajoka Theatre will be honoured on the occasion. Festival is being organised by leading indian theatre group Marich Rang Manch. Ajoka anniversary events will also be held in London, Glasgow and New York in July which will include performances, dramatic readings and screenings.
A special anniversary celebration event will be held on 25 May at Alhamra which will include performances by eminent artists who started their journey with Ajoka. An international theatre festival will be held in November 2024 in Lahore. Theatre groups and experts from countries including US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, UAE, India, Iran and China are expected to attend.
Theatre seminars, talks and workshops will also be held during the 10-day festival. Ajoka will also hold an exhibition of Ajoka memorabilia in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Ajoka also plans to establish an Ajoka Archives to preserve valuable material of cultural material of past 40 years and make it accessible to researchers and students. A book on the research papers written on Ajoka and Shahid Nadeem’s works has also been commissioned and will be published from US soon.
The anniversary events will end with a gala award ceremony in December. Shahid Nadeem expressed his gratitude for the support received from the Government of Punjab and cultural organizations such as Lahore Arts Council, PILAC, PUCAR, PNCA and Babar Ali Foundation. He urged those Interested in promoting social meaningful performing arts to support Ajoka’s work by sponsorships and donations.