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DAWN Tuesday Review, c.1997

Dramatis Personae: Talat Husain

“You ask me what is the basic problem with theatre in Pakistan – let me begin by inviting you to consider whether there is such a thing existing in Pakistan at all. Theatre in Pakistan is and isn’t there. Our culture is not supportive of theatre. We cannot stand conflict and differences of opinion. Therefore, the best minds in our culture when it comes to the expression of controversial issues turns to poetry. In poetry we have a strong tradition of expression complaints, conflicts and revolts. The problem with drama is that here you have to personify. Hence, the cover of abstraction which protects a poet from the wrath of a conservative audience is not available to the dramatist and the actor. I believe that culture comes out of religion.

“Personally I do see a potential for developing conflicting themes in the Islamic thought. After all we do have 99 names of God, some of which represent attributes very different from each other. On the contrary you have reduced the theme of conflict to the simplest duality between good and evil, between God and Satan. All rebellion is associated with Satan and therefore bad. As a result you only get black and white characters in your plays – and drama cannot thrive for long on flat characters.”


This brief interview appeared in an issue of Tuesday Review celebrating the 50 years of theater in Pakistan.

 
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