A series of theatre performances will take place on the streets of Karachi’s Korangi, aiming to sensitize male family members to let young women pursue careers after they graduate from school.
The play, Saba, revolves around a young woman named Saba who wants to fulfill her dream of supporting her ailing father Sultan. However, Saba’s brother Abrar and phupho (paternal aunt) Sakina complicate things for her.
Abrar thinks a woman’s place is in the house and she should serve the men in the family. Abrar and Sakina become the villains in Saba’s life by convincing her father not to let her leave the house or have friends over.
Saba’s story is similar to that of thousands of young Pakistani women who are forced to stay home or are married off at a young age.
“Parents fear that their daughters won’t get a rishta (marriage proposal), or face workplace harassment,” believes Faisal Malik, the director of the play. We want to create awareness about the opportunities available for young women, he said at the opening ceremony on Thursday.
He said the Sindh Polytechnic Institute for Women offers courses such as computer operation, fashion design and dress making, and is one of the many platforms that gives free training.
The reason to start the theatre campaign from Korangi is that the area is Karachi’s industrial hub, where many garment factories are located, Malik explained.
The play aims to change the mindset of family members with lighthearted entertainment, according to the organisers. Performances will take place every Sunday between 5:45pm and 7:15pm, starting from August 25, and will end on November 10. Entry is free of charge.
Here are the spots in Korangi where the performances will be held:
Coast Guard, near DC
Main Korangi Road No 2
Korangi Itwar Bazaar Ground
Korangi 3 ½ Park
Ghous Pak Road
The last two locations haven’t been disclosed yet.
The role of theatre to bring social change
Theatre is an ancient form of media which has been used to communicate a message to people, said Dr Asma Ibrahim, an archaeologist, who was also present at the ceremony.
“However, theatre is not getting the respect it deserves in Pakistan,” she said, adding that street theatre is a foreign concept in our country.
It is an extremely personal and interactive form of media that can make people feel deeply and relate in a better way to the story, she said. Dr Ibrahim said the audience can give their feedback there and then by hooting or making noises and the performances seem very close to reality.
The hour-long play has been written by Nouman Mehmood and organised by Thespianz Foundation and Soorty Enterprises.
The organizers plan to extend the campaign to other parts of Sindh based on the response they get for this project. A German think tank will assess the real-time effects of the campaign.