KARACHI: Following a series of interesting adaptations that have lately been drawing crowds to the theatre, National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) artistic director Zain Ahmed now has plans of bringing Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House to stage. Gurya Ka Ghar was supposed to be part of Karachi Arts Council Theatre Festival but will now be performed as part of a three-play series.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Ahmed shared what made him choose the play and how his adaptation will be different from previous ones. “I have always liked this play,” he said. “I teach this play at NAPA so I have always been kind of interested in seeing how it will look on stage. I thought let’s do it.” The three-act play, which was written in 1879 by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, deals with the way marriage is perceived in our society. The story revolves around a middle-class woman who leaves her husband and children to discover herself. Back in its day, the play caused a lot of controversy due to its ending.
Even some of the cast members had issues with the ending, which the director managed to resolve. “I don’t think it’s controversial anymore, but it is still relevant,” explained Ahmed. “Issues of patriarchy are prevalent even in today’s society. It is a very feminist play, which makes you reassess gender roles and question everything we take for granted. I think that’s what theatre is supposed to do: make you question everything.” The director shared that it was not the idea of the woman leaving her husband that people had an issue with, but leaving the children. “I think it also thrusts this questions very subtly, and makes you think why it is only a mother’s responsibility to take care of children? Why shouldn’t the father take this responsibility as well?”
A Doll’s House is widely considered one of the most performed plays. In fact, it even held the distinction of being the world’s most performed play of the year in 2006, which marked the centennial of Ibsen’s death. In Pakistan, the play has been adapted by the likes of Samina Peerzada, Sheema Kermani and other prominent thespians. But how does Ahmed’s version stand out? “I think ours is totally different from other adaptations. We have employed a technique where one character is performed by three to five actors on the stage, simultaneously,” shared the director. “It’s an experiment. I made some people watch the performance and they totally understood it. It doesn’t affect the flow or compromise on understanding of the play.”
Ahmed has used Shoaib Hashmi’s adaptation of A Doll’s House with a few modifications here and there. “I have made certain changes to it and further adapted it. We have converted two scenes into songs so the characters will be singing out their lines, instead of just saying them.”
Other two plays of the three-play series include Uzma Sabeen’s Mere Samne Wali Khidki Mein and Akbar Islam’s Aarfy, which was written by Kamal Ahmed Rizvi. Gurya Ka Ghar is set to be performed on August 11 and 12 at Napa.