Puppetry Project in Pakistan
A project initiated by Theatre Embassyin co-operation with the Punjab Lok Rahs, Lahore, excecuted by “t Magisch Theatertje” Maastricht, the Netherlands.
’t Magisch Theatertje was asked by Theatre Embassy to do a workshop on puppetry with the Punjab Lok Rahs to increase professionalism in that field because puppetry can be a good tool to bring a message and create a performance with them. Theatre Embassy is having a long-term relation with the Punjab Lok Rahs, a socio-political theatre organisation working with art to create awareness and change in Pakistan society.
’t Magisch Theatertje worked with a group of girl-students from the LCWU – Lahore College Woman University – and created in a 10-days workshop a performance with them, based on ‘Gender-Issues’, a very hot item in Pakistan as the position of women is still a very backward one with sometimes excessive violent manifestations. Not only is the male-dominance very strong, also still the honour-killings of women are happening regular and in the country-side and remote tribal areas horrifying things are happening, mere barbarism. Bills on women-rights are not implemented and the lives of countless women in Pakistan are destroyed.
’t Magisch Theatertje decided in their approach to get everything initiated by the group, the girls, and guide that towards professionalism. The theme of ‘Gender-Issues’was proposed by the girls and ideas and development of the concept happened based on brainstorm techniques. Feelings like oppression, self-awareness and woman-strenght, not only as birth-giving, but also as a positive contribution to society were the themes.
We decided to make it a pure visual performance with just images, movement and sound, this for two reasons. The first was to focus totally on the artistic level and the second one was to avoid possible provocative effects by using text.The symbol of oppressing was beautiful expressed by a woman with a mask and bird-cage over here head for example, comprehensible for everybody, but it could be interpreted by association on each level in the audiences.
Everthing was done with the girls in togetherness, the making of puppets, masks, the organisation of the music, the scenography. Everybody was very positive and during the rehearsals very sharp.It was really incredible to see how they were able to organize themselves the choreography on the set.
Our approach was quite new for them, as they were used to teachers who told them, mostly in a rather authorical way what and how to do. Our approach to work in togetherness was refreshing and highly appreciated.
The MELA- Festival
The performance was also shown at the Mela-Festival in Jaranwala, organised by the Punjab Lok Rhas in a remote place in the country-side. This Festival is organised on purpose in the back-ward places to confront and celebrate culture with people who don’t have normally acces to that.
Although the circumstances were quite primitive the girls did a good show for an audience of woman and children, a succesfull end of this theatre/puppetry project.