The­atre Ali Baba Chalis Chor

Slogan - - Contents - BY Faizan Us­mani

Do­ing the­atre for chil­dren is an ar­du­ous task. Other than an en­gag­ing script and a lively per­for­mance, what char­ac­terises the­atre for chil­dren is its abil­ity to nur­ture in­tel­lec­tual and artis­tic tal­ent in the young ones.

It also plays a part in their per­sonal de­vel­op­ment. Re­cently shown at the Karachi Arts Coun­cil, Ali Baba Chalis Chor could be termed a suc­cess only if its main ob­jec­tive were to make chil­dren laugh and noth­ing else. A pro­duc­tion of Green Eye Pro­duc­tion, the play was based on one of the clas­sic Ara­bic folk­tales of “One Thou­sand and One Nights (

),” which is also known as the “Ara­bian Nights.” Di­rected by Umair Rafiq with nar­ra­tion by Zain Qureshi, Ali Baba Chalis Chor was first per­formed in ‘Bach­pan Ke Rung,’ a the­atre fes­ti­val for chil­dren held at the Na­tional Academy of Per­form­ing Arts (NAPA) in Karachi.

This time, Ali Baba Chalis Chor was boast­fully staged with a mu­si­cal and com­i­calil ttwistit tto makek ththe mostt pop­u­larl child­hood bed­time story an ex­cit­ing, fun­based play both for chil­dren and adults. And that’s where the trou­ble be­gan. In the name of fun, the play ended up killing the cen­turies-old folk­tale, right from its be­gin­ning to the end and that too amidst deaf­en­ing laugh­ter and re­peated clap­ping of the au­di­ence.

As things took place through­out the play, there was nei­ther a real Ali Baba, nor were the in­fa­mous forty thieves, as it was merely a hotch­potch of dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters stolen from the orig­i­nal story. In the guise of Ali Baba Chalis Chor, the scriptwrit­er just hi­jacked the clas­sic folk­tale char­ac­ters to de­pict a dis­torted sto­ry­line meant to cre­ate some silly fun and noth­ing more.

From the very out­set, the per­form­ers were pulling faces, turn­ing them­selves up­side down, jump­ing and fall­ing off the stage and sim­ply clown­ing around to en­ter­tain the au­di­ence, par­tic­u­larly the young ones. If this is what was sup­posed to be shown to the chil­dren, the mak­ers of the play could have pro­duced a to­tally new story from scratch, in­stead of mess­ing up with the orig­i­nal tale.

The good thing about the play was its abil­ity to keep chil­dren in­volved through­out the show with some truly in­ter­ac­tive per­for­mances. Faraz Ali as Babloo Al Bub­blegum, Muneeb Baig as Ali Baba, Sehrish Qadir as Bhabhi, Sha­bana Has­san as Mar­jina and Aqeel Ahmed as Qasim took the au­di­ence on an hour-long mish­mash of a base­less plot with rib-tick­ling fillers. This was all staged in the name of Ali Baba Chalis Chor.

Be­fore dip­ping a toe into stag­ing the­atre for the young au­di­ence, the pro­duc­ers of the play should have utilised their own imag­i­na­tion to cre­ate some­thing new in place of pig­gy­back­ing on some­one else’s ideas. As it ap­peared, they seemed to be re­ly­ing on the ‘Open Se­same” mantra to steal the gist of the clas­sic tale and bring back the stolen trea­sure in a mis­er­ably con­torted form.

Frankly speak­ing, there was no Ali Baba, but there were a lot of chors.

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