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What would Ghalib and Manto talk about in hell? Upcoming play Dozakhnama will tell us

LAHORE: Azad Theatre, a six-year old group from Punjab is working on a play Dozakhnama that comprises imaginary conversations between two literary giants Saadat Hasan Manto and Mirza Ghalib when they meet in hell.

The play, is an adaptation of a novel with the same title by a Bengali writer, Rabisankar Bal. The conversation between Ghalib and Manto is an intellectual journey that takes one to the people and events that shape up the socio-political situation of the times these literary geniuses lived.

Malik Aslam, the director, told Dawn that the rehearsals were about to start and play would be staged after Ramazan.

He has been involved in international theatre performances for over 18 years. Trained by national and international theatre experts, he is listed among the best light and set designers in Pakistan.

Aslam has participated in more than 20 international and national theatre festivals as an actor, director and light and set designer. He has been taught light and set designing by German and Indian trainers. He has also conducted a number of theatre workshops across Pakistan.

To a question about the lost tradition of storytelling through parallel theatre in Punjab, he said Azad Theatre wanted to revive the tradition. For the purpose the group held a three-day storytelling activity at Alhamra Art Centre, The Mall, a couple of years ago. They narrated ‘Raja Poras’, a story from Saeed Bhutta’s collection Nabar Kahani. He said the revival of dastangoi (or storytelling) was a step forward in the prevalent theatrical trend on their end.

He said some of his group members were currently visiting India to stage a play, Chandar Das Chore, a production that also features National School of Drama teachers, Indian students from different institutions. The play would be staged from July I to 5, he added.

Established in 2011, Azad Theatre has staged a number of plays so far, mostly on Sufi poets of Punjab.

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