Reviving the art of story-telling

Reviving the art of story-telling
Members of the theatre group Goonj

Expatriates conjure up theatre play based on the real-life experiences that re?ect the UAE as a positive, creative ground



By Saman Haziq

Published: Fri 23 Mar 2018, 5:59 PM

Last updated: Wed 28 Mar 2018, 8:03 PM

About a year ago a group of friends, Urdu-language lovers from Pakistan and India came together to discuss different shades of South Asian literature and were exploring ways to reinvent its unique style of storytelling. They realised that in this era of technological advancement, people may have forgotten what it means to write a letter or share an engaging story. With the passion to revive the rich tradition of letter-writing, this eclectic group of storytellers, comprising journalists, filmmakers, writers and theatre artists came together to form a UAE-based community theatre called Goonj (Echo).
Under the community banner of Goonj, the group produced the first Urdu stage production in the UAE called Mian, Biwi aur Wagah, which is also the first original production in the Middle East to go international at a theatre festival organised in Karachi, Pakistan. The play, which is based on the lost tradition of letter-writing, is the UAE's only homegrown theatre production selected to perform at the National Academy of Performing Arts [NAPA] Intentional Theatre and Music Festival.  
Mian, Biwi aur Wagah is based on the real-life experiences of a Dubai-based journalist couple from India and Pakistan, Ehtesham Shahid and Amna Ehtesham Khaishgi, playing themselves.
The play's original concept based on the real life of an Indo-Pak couple. Inspired by real life events, the stories are staged through a series of handwritten letters, with the aim of reviving interest in the lost tradition of letter-writing. 
Last year, the couple was part of a short play in Dubai where they experimented with the idea of letters for the first time. They portrayed a married couple, each one writing letters to their respective families and these letters were used as a voice-over.
Mian and Biwi are the South Asian husband-wife duo, while Wagah - a border crossing between India and Pakistan - takes human form to become the narrator of the play.
"The play aims to revive the spirit and tradition of letter-writing that is rapidly disappearing under the onslaught of communication technology. At the same time, it tells you how similar people in India and Pakistan are," said Dhruti Shah D'Souza, director of the play.
The play had ?ve sold-out shows in Dubai in August and October 2017. The director of the play believes that its successs lies in the fact that it was born in the UAE. "The success of Mian, Biwi aur Wagah is the re?ection of what the UAE has given to all of us. Collecting letters from different parts of South Asia, knitting them all together and then taking it to different parts of the world would not have been possible elsewhere. The UAE is a country of love and peace, and embraces positivity from all cultures and values," said Dhruti Shah, the director of the play.  
UAE's Ambassador to Pakistan, Hamad Obaid Al Zaabi, will also be attending the UAE play's ?rst-ever performance in Pakistan. 
Pakistan's Ambassador to the UAE, Moazzam Ahmad Khan, also expressed his best wishes to the team. "It is indeed a great moment. Such cultural interactions would further deepen the multifaceted relationship between our two brotherly countries," said Pakistan's envoy to the UAE.  
The play is co-directed by Sheherzad Kaleem, written by Ehtesham Shahid, Amna Khaishgi and Mohammed Majid who are also the play's lead actors. Co-actors and writers are Faraz Waqar and Maha Jamil. Johan D'Souza is the musician and singer.
Shah said that the UAE has given those involved in this play a unique platform. "Hence, as a token of appreciation, the group has decided to dedicate Mian, Biwi aur Wagah's ?rst international theatre festival performance to the Year of Zayed. We are a group of Indians and Pakistanis with deep connections to the UAE. This is our home away from home and we feel extremely proud that through this play we can contribute something back to
this wonderful land of opportunities," Dhruti said.
Besides participating in the NAPA festival, Mian, Biwi aur Wagah will also stage three shows - on March 31 and April 1 - at the Arts Council of Pakistan in Karachi, which is another prestigious art institution in the country.
-saman@khaleejtimes.com


More news from Community
Glittering festival of lights

Community

Glittering festival of lights

Diwali traditions are upheld to the tee by residents living far away from their homeland Diwali traditions are upheld to the tee by residents living far away from their homeland

Community3 years ago

Share a smile, it helps!

Community

Share a smile, it helps!

It furthers human interaction and eliminates the phenomenon of fear and otherness It furthers human interaction and eliminates the phenomenon of fear and otherness

Community3 years ago

Do you know your doggo needs?

Community

Do you know your doggo needs?

Your furbabies need exceptional care and attention during the heat wave to ensure good health and well-being Your furbabies need exceptional care and attention during the heat wave to ensure good health and well-being

Community3 years ago

Time to celebrate

Community

Time to celebrate

Eid is another extended day for people who live a lonely life in the UAE away from their families. But the friends' circle makes all the difference.

Community3 years ago