Celebrating 100 years of Saadat Hassan Manto (May 1912-2012) – Lahore May 14-17/12

By Kanwal Dhaliwal from Uddari Art

Celebrating 100 years of Saadat Hassan Manto (May 1912-2012)
AJOKA THEATRE
In collaboration with the
Lahore Arts Council
Presents a
Tribute to Manto
On 14th, 15th , 16th & 17th May 2012 at 7pm
VENUE: Hall #2, Alhamra the Mall, Lahore.

You are coordially invited to the following events
14th and 15th May
Performances
Siyah Hashiye
Toba Tek Singh
Khol Do
Adapted by: Shahid Nadeem
Directed by: Madeeha Gauhar
Dramatised Readings
Akhri Salute
By Naeem Tahir

16th and 17th May
Performances
Naya Qanoon
Adapted by: Shahid Nadeem
Directed by: Naseem Abbas
Dramatised Readings
Sawerey Jo Kal Ankh Mairee Khuli
Pardey ki Baatain
Dekh Kabira Roya
Uncle Sam Ke Khatoot
By Naveed Shahzad, Naseem Abbas, Furqan Majeed

More Information:
Ajoka: 042-36686634, 36682443, 36677047 Alhamra: 99200917-8

Note:
Children under 12 are strictly not allowed
Mobile phones must be switched off before entering the hall
Doors shall be closed upon commencement of the performance
Consumption of eatables & drinks in the hall is not allowed

Website: www.ajoka.org.pk
Email: ajokatheatre@gmail.com
Facebook: AjokaTheatrePakistan
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Celebrating Gursharan Singh (1929-2011) – Surrey BC Oct 10/11


Mere dil vich dard jagaey, chutki le ja na, le ja na … chatta channan da dey ja na
(From ‘Chatta Chandna Da’ by Amritshar Natak Kala Kendra)

Bhaji Gursharan Singh passed away in his home in Chandigarh on September 27. This
great human being from Punjab, a revolutionary spirit, a ground-breaking artist who
changed the face of Punjabi theatre and culture, a champion of the downtrodden and
fearless defender of the oppressed is mourned not only in Punjab and India but wherever there are South Asians who ache for the deprivation and sorrow of others and who work for social justice.

Join us in celebrating the life of this revolutionary artist.
Monday, October 10
1.30 pm-4.30 pm
7475-135 Street
Surrey BC

Organized byHarinder Mahil, Chin Banerjee, Raj Chouhan, Sadhu Binning, Charan Gill, Makhan Tut., and Paul Binning, Sukhwant Hundal and Sarwan Boal.
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Special Performance: Ajoka’s play on Honour Killings – Lahore July 26/11

AJOKA THEATRE
in collaboration with
SOUTH ASIAN PARTNERSHIP (SAP)
Cordially invites you to
A special performance of
Maikoon Kari Kareenday ni mae
They are honour-killing me O Mother

Written by Shahid Nadeem
Directed by Madeeha Gauhar
July 26th 2011
11.a.m
Ali Institute Auditorium
Ferozpur Road, Lahore

No Invitation passes required
Free Event

Fiction not as grotesque as fact
“Maikoon Kari Kareenday ni mae” (They are honour-killing me O Mother!) is a fictional account of the proceedings of a Panchayat of men sitting on judgment on their own women, who are accused of violating the tribal code of honour. But the fact is that reality in our society is much stranger and shocking than fiction, as we have learnt from the cases such as the murder of Saima Sarwar and the Mukhtaran Mai gang rape. The recent Supreme Court judgment on MUKHTARAN MAI case has made decision a laughing stock of the world.

“Maikoon Kari Kareenday ni mae” is part of Ajoka’s campaign to create awareness about the savage custom of “honour” killing and mobilise public opinion for its eradication. The play has been performed in big cities as well as in the areas badly affected by “Karo Kari” killings. Ajoka is already involved in theatre workshops and video screenings to enable community activists to mobilize support for the campaign against honour killings through theatre and the performing arts.

In its 27 year of uninterrupted and undeterned struggle to bring about social change through theatre, Ajoka reaffirms its determination to keep the flag of socially meaning theatre flying and be a part of the democratic movement for a secular, just and egalitarian society.

The theme song of the play is translation of a poem by Sindhi poet Seeikh Ayaz.

If any organization is interested in having this play performed in their communities do contact us at: ajokatheatre@gmail.com
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To Faiz from Alys, ‘Dear Heart’ a play by Sam Lathem

Faiz (Sam Lathem) and Alys (Helen Phillips)

Dear Heart, a 25-minute play in English based on the life of Faiz and his wife Alys, and set in the period when he was imprisoned in Pakistan during the early 1950s on treason charges, was staged for the first time on 14 May 2011 in Oxford, England.

The event was organised jointly by Anjuman-e-Adab Oxford, Oxford University Pakistan Society and the Faiz Centenary Celebration Committee UK.

The play was a part of an evening of speeches, performances, and poetry readings celebrating the life and work of Faiz. The play, dramatic and thought provoking was received with rapturous applause and a standing ovation. An imprisoned poet of Punjabi origin writing in the Urdu language of feudal literary sensibility, being visited by Alys, the love of his life, and the mother of their two young daughters – this sort of plot would have risked falling into the trap of sentimentality a la Punjabi/Urdu theatre. But the play steers clear of such a trap and carries the message across in a simple, emotive and subtle way.

The play gives prominence to Alys’ story revealing her courage and power in the Faiz narrative. Her character, played with feeling and expressiveness by Helen Phillips, stands out. Faiz, played by Sam Lathem, displays deftly both the helplessness of a prisoner and steadfastness of a committed poet. The two guards are a pivotal and integral part of the play, particularly when they are required not to speak. The older guard is played with powerful energy and stage presence, by Charanjit Singh. The younger guard is played by Ali Aulia, who manages to reveal a touching transformative journey. In no time the raw intensity of the play takes you to a virtuality, beyond time and space.

Even if one is not familiar with the lives of Faiz and Alys, the play communicates the emotional journey of two people caught in a desperate and traumatic situation who are determined to survive against all odds, the source of their survival – a powerful love for each other. Finally, in the play there are echoes of Faiz’s appeal to a universality in revealing that the guards are also prisoners.

Faiz (Sam Lathem) and prison guards Ali Aulia and Charanjit Singh

Writer/Director Sam Lathem says this about the play
I have been inspired to write Dear Heart with one simple thought – love for the whole world cannot be locked away and forgotten about. Alys Faiz a woman in a new world, armed only with love will fight for all human rights.

I wrote the play, earlier this year, setting it in and around the small cell in which Faiz was imprisoned. This gave me a strong backdrop for the play. Alys had not seen Faiz, for three months, this gave her a strong emotional centre from which I could write. Discovering Faiz, had been tortured by two guards, she first sets about her prison reformation, she then sets about Faiz’s reformation reaffirming his sense of self worth. Faced with a mountain to climb, sorting out the political and personal corruption, she does so armed only with love. The play ends with Alys saying to Faiz that he must be patient, and to keep writing. As she exits, we realize, how strong she has been, and how strong she must be to get her husband released.

Alys has been a footnote in Faiz’s life and at times for far too long. I felt, I needed to shine the light on her, to step out of the shadows of Faiz’s beautiful light and for us to realise there would be no him without her.

- Words and images by Amarjit Chandan

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Press conference: Artists against government ban‏ in Pakistan

Press Release

Ajoka Theatre, Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop and Samina Ahmed Productions are holding a press conference at
Lahore Press Club
February 25th
6. pm.

Regarding the statement of the Interior Minister Rahman Malik reported in the media in which he has said that all artists will require a No Objection Certificate (N.O.C.) when leaving the country.

All friends are requested to attend the press conference.

Madeeha Gauhar, Ajoka Theatre
Usman Peerzada, Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop
Samina Ahmed, Samina Ahmed Productions

More information
ajokatheatre@gmail.com
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Two New Blogs on Punjabi Art and Culture

I am happy to introduce you to two new blogs that are set to contribute a lot of materials on Punjabi culture and art.

Poet/Playwright Surjeet Kalsey’s blog at http://surjeetkalsey.wordpress.com offers comprehensive information on her literary work accomplished in the last two-three decades. She is the author of over 17 titles in English and Punjabi including collections of poetry, short fiction, literary criticism, anthologies and translations. View Publications page.

Surjeet’s stage plays have been performed as well as published in book form. The blog also provides information about her book launches, awards and distinctions. The Photo pages have images of literary circles, stage plays, Family and Friends.

The second blog is of Actor Darshan Mann who has worked in most stage plays performed in Punjabi theatre in British Columbia since the Seventies. Her blog provides detailed information on her acting roles and her bio. Her portfolio carries shots from different stage plays and slide show of selected photos.

Darshan’s blog is located at http://darshanmann.wordpress.com/, and offers enchanting photos in Albums under the headings of Stage Plays, B&W Portraits, and Social and Cultural.

Darshan Mann has performed in BC, Ontario and Alberta.

Through the creative work done by Darshan Mann and Surjeet Kalsey, we can begin to collect the history of Punjabi theatre and literature in British Columbia and in Canada.

Looking at the two blogs, it is apparent that both Darshan and Surjeet have created substantial bodies of original and creative work in literature and performing arts as their contributions to Punjabi communities of Vancouver Lower Mainland. And, i am proud to say that both are my dear friends.

Please welcome Kalsey and Mann in the blogging community of WordPress and the World.
Poet/Playwright Surjeet Kalsy
Actor Darshan Mann

Blogs designed by Uddari Web.

Author Najm Hosain Syed

Najm Hosain Syed, Lahore 1999

Poet, Playwright, Linguist and Literary Critic Najm Hosain Syed is unique for having created the greatest positive impact on Punjabi literature, language, and the movement for the integrity of Punjabi in West Punjab.

The author of over 22 literary titles, Najm Hosain Syed runs weekly ‘Sangat Shah Husain’ since the Seventies, a literary gathering that is may be the highest school of learning that Pakistan can offer. Classic Punjabi poets such as Shah Madhulal Husain, Bulleh Shah, Gurunanak, Waris Shah and Damoodar are read, interpreted and discussed line by line over months and years.

Such schooling has produced most of what we now have in Punjabi writing and publishing in the West. Suchet Kitab Ghar and Monthly Pancham published by Editor Maqsood Saqib and Faiza, Kitab Trinjan operated by Author Zubair Ahmad, and Rut Leekha are the kind of fine organizations that are supported by Najm Syed. Earlier, he had encouraged the establishment of the first educational institution in Lahore to teach Punjabi at a graduate and post-graduate level, the Shah Husain College.

Below are links to the renderings of some of Najm Syed’s poetry and plays, and to more information about him.

Read excerpts from ‘Recurrent Patterns of Punjabi Poetry’ by Najm Hosain Syed at APNA

View the Cover Page of 1976 Edition of ‘Recurrent Patterns of Punjabi Poetry’

A Profile of Najm Hosain Syed by Zubair Ahmad (PDF)

Listen to a dramatic rendering of Najm Hosain Syed’s ‘Dullae de Var’ from his play ‘Takht Lhore’ at Lahore Chitrkar

Hear Ayesha Ali Sing Najm Hosain Syed’s ‘Kuchi Neendrae’ and ‘Va Sah Tainda’

More Photos in the Photo Album

‘Najm Hosain Syed: A Portrait’ by Iqbal Rashid at Uddari Art Exhibition

Photo by Amarjit Chandan.

What we have above is just the tip of the iceberg that does however satisfy Uddari Writers Page but there is a lot more that I like to share with you here.

Though we have seen ‘poet, playwright, linguist and literary critic’ with Najm’s name supported by about 20 titles containing poetry, stage plays, language development projects and literary criticism yet there is sufficient reason to add ‘Musician and Composer’ to it. In the past three decades, Najm has composed and recorded over 300 cassette-length UNPUBLISHED works of semi-classical and folk music. The best part is that most use classical Punjabi poetry. In this venture, he has had a solid partnership with his wife Samina Syed who is an ‘Ustad’ of her discipline of singing, and has a deep voice that has been honed by years of ‘riaz’ practice. Another person who has been singing on Najm Syed’s tunes with Samina Syed from the Seventies, is Yasoob Tahir, and in more recent years, Ayesha Ali. On the technical side, Abbas Sidiqui has been working to organize the music library; in addition, there are many musicians who have practiced and performed with Samina Syed in the past years. We can now hear Ayesha Ali at Lahore Chitrkar but the singing voices of Samina Syed, Yasoob Tahir and Najm Hosain Syed are still unavailable.

more …
View a developing list of Complete Works by Najm Hosain Syed being compiled with the help of Author/Editor Zubair Ahmad, who has been wrorking with Syed for over two decades on various language development projects. Here is the link: Punjabi Books

As well, a dedicated group of visual artists headed by Producer/Director Huma Safdar has staged some of Najm Syed’s plays in Lahore and Punjab, and have drawn admiration from critics and audiences. Most of Syed’s plays deal with themes of equality and re-interpretation of history in the context of the Punjab, and so are challenging to produce. Also, the plays are produced on volunteer basis. Ghazala Khan, Samiya Mumtaz, Farjad Nabi, Dr. Nusrat and many others have contributed their time, skills and talents to the development of Punjabi theater in Lahore.

Najm Hosain Syed takes a clear and strong stand against the growing societal trends of ‘commercialization’ by refusing to make profit from his work whether in the form of publications or plays. All his books are sold on the cost price, and the cultural organizations he supports are non-profit who do not seek funding from the government or other aid agencies. He abhors the growing influence enjoyed by the media, and stays away from media hypes about himself and his work.

Using a more intellectualized and structured version of Punjabi, Najm Syed’s poetic voice is aware and contained in its passions; and, his dramatic themes reach epic proportions as our past is brought to our present, and from their to a hope of a more enlightened future.

More at Uddari

Information on AIDS Walk San Francisco, register now for July 20.

Amnesty International is presenting ‘Super Patriots and Morons’ in Vancouver, a political play banned in Zimbabwe. Written by Raisedon Baya and Leornard Matsashort, it was short-listed for the Freedom of Expression Award by Amnesty International UK. The Vancouver production of ‘Super Patriots and Morons’ is directed by Pasi Gunguwo, and features Jean Pierre, Carlos Joe Costa, Ezeadi, Patrick Onokwulu, Tendai Mpofu, Ruth Akefa Azu among others.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammad Hanif
A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammad Hanif
Meet London-based author Mohammad Hanif in Karachi and Lahore this week where he will present readings from his first novel ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes’, a satire on General Zia ul Haq, the dearly departed conservative ruler of Pakistan.

Aitzaz Ahsan, one of the most prominent leaders of the movement for democratic rights in Pakistan, is coming to Amnesty International USA in Washington DC to speak about the issues emanating from the dismissal last year of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, and others. Ahsan has led the recently held Long March (June 9 from Karachi and Quetta to Sukkur-Multan-Lahore-Rawalpindi-Islamabad June 14) to demand the reinstatement of justices. More on the event in Washington DC.

At the same Page, find information about events happening in Vancouver tomorrow to celebrate the ongoing contributions and achievements of the First Nations and Aborignal Canadians at the National Aborignal Day, June 21.

View the new Photo Album page created today to display photos of cultural, art and literary events. It is a matter of pride for Uddari to begin it with the memory of a remarkable youth, Deepak Binning, who continues to create positive impacts on our communities in Vancouver. So, click over, and see some photos of the Ninth Deepak Binning Foundation Walk-a-Thon and West Coast BhangRa Festival held in Richmond earlier this month.

UBC Students of Punjabi Literature, Delightful Performers!

This post was going to indulge in a discussion on different ways to further develop Punjabi literary communities in Canada with reference to the UBC Conference on Modern Punjabi Literature but then Sadhu Binning sent me photos that brought back all the smiles and laughs drawn by a skit performed by the ‘junior’ students of Punjabi at that Conference.

The package also includes an expected group photo with newly emptied tables that i am happy to present to you here.

UBC Conference on Modern Punjabi Literature, First Day

For the rest, please stay posted.

The skit ‘Mr. Binning’s Retirement’ was presented by the UBC students of Punjabi to celeberate the life long tenure of their teacher Sadhu Binning. A 20-delightful-minute long exploration of all available career options of a retired South Asian Canadian teacher of Punjabi literature in Vancouver, the skit was a light-hearted view of a teacher and the system.

Before we proceed further, it will be helpful to see this mobile-phone photo of a youth who could so easily project the body language of his teacher.

Sandhler as Mr. BinningShamsher Sandlas, the ‘Mr. Binning’, ready to hail Nasiruddin Shah?

The ‘Mr. Binning’ character played by Shamsher Sandlas brings out all of Sadhu’s laid back mannersim where though disinterested in climbing social ladders, he does oblige Mrs. Binning (Rupinder Gosal) time and again by giving a good shot to each presented career choice by turning it into a viable opportunity. From making an on-the-spot call to Actor Om Puri in India and arriving there for an audition on the next flight from Canada- to playing golf with BC Liberal Politician Ujjal Dosanj as a career move- to going all out for a chance to become a Punjabi Pop Singer- Mr. Binning tries everything with mild enthusiasm, and good-natured submission to various hiring requirements. Yet he FAILs at everything. This leaves an open stage and eight happy artists to ponder over various new possibilities.

The Seven UBC Students who predict Sadhu Binning’s post-retirement career options as being NIL. Shamsher Sandlas (Mr. Binning), Rupinder Gosal (Mrs. Binning, in red shirt), Daljit Mahal (Om Puri, Ujjal Dosanjh), Harman Bains (Actress), Rupeela Gill (Director’s help), Akashdeep Villing (Actor and Music producer), and Aman Oberoi (Music producer) in ‘Mr. Binning’s Retirement’.

The Eighth, if you are wondering, is Sadhu outside the frame at this point; and, if you find that people are not standing where their names indicate than please be my guest because i also can not understand all the moves made by our youth.

Moral of the story? Mr Binning CAN NOT do anything but teach Punjabi, and/or that Mr. Binning MUST NOT do anything but teach Punjabi. Sounds good to me because i know that teaching Punjabi the last few decades has not stopped Sadhu from working on his creative writing, and that is what matters the most.

An interesting observation is that the teacher role of Sadhu presented by his students who all appeared to be second generation Punjabi Canadians, is the same as is revered in South Asia for centuries where the love of teaching a particular discipline makes a teacher a strong role model for the students or at least, someone that they respect, learn from and remember as they move along to shape their lives. Yet at the same time, unlike the traditional model of a teacher in South Asia, Sadhu does not create distance as means to command respect but remains informal and communicative with his students, a quality attributed to teachers in the ‘Western’ education system. The character that comes out is a cross between the two traditions.

Another observation is that each time Mr. Binning enters his living room and takes a seat after a day’s hard work, the ominious remote (weapon of TV) control finds his right hand in a brisk and un-observing manner, compliments of course, to the groundedness of Mrs. Binning played by Rupinder Gosal.

Daljit Mahal was comfortable with enacting both character actor Om Puri and our own leader Ujjal Dosanjh. Harman Bains and Rupeela Gill, the actress and the director’s assistant in the film scene, provided faster tempo and some tension to Mr. and Mrs. Binning’s slow and comfortable drawl. Akashdeep Villing (Actor and Music producer) and Aman Oberoi (Music producer) came out strong in their roles as well. And of course, in the shape of Shamsher Sandlas we may be looking at an expatriot Nasiruuddin Shah, to say the very least!

That was a lot of fun Shamsher, Daljit, Harman, Rupeela, Akashdeep and Aman, thanks; it was a great group effort to write/direct/produce the skit in such a short period of time. We also must thank Bibi Anna Kaur Murphy for her advisory role in the skit, and so, thanks Anne.

Also view Rana Nayar’s forceful comment on Modern Punjabi Literature at UBC: A Glass Half Full, that goes right into the discussion that is about to take place in the next post. Before we split, let me tell you that from 40-50 new people that i had the pleasure to meet, Rana Nayar got me the most confused in that after hearing his first presentation par excellence i was sure he was a British Punjabi from London but he turned out to be a Punjabi Punjabi from Chandigarh thus challenging some of my myths and assumptions.
No More Watnu Dur by Sadhu Binning
Earthy Tones by Gurdial Singh and Rana Nayar
Punjabi Books at Amazon

Inside Uddari Pages

‘Zameen’ by Satinder Kaur Chauhan. Kali Theater Company, London 7-17 May, 2008 in Cultural Events Page

Vimla Dang: A Great Punjabi Woman in the Great Women of Punjabi Origin

‘The Victim’ by Kanwal Dhaliwal in Uddari Art Exhibition