Comedy on the edge: Pakistan's first Urdu improv troupe bid to alleviate social tension
Tim Clark1 March 2010
Comedy is often seen as a way of venting social tensions, but in some parts of the world showing artistic freedom is no laughing matter – it is a basic human right that needs to be defended.
So it is comforting news to hear that the world’s first ever Urdu Improvisation comedy troupe has been set up in Pakistan in a bid to counter the deteriorating social conditions in the country.
The troupe, who performed for the first time last weekend at Karachi's Pakistan American Cultural Centre (PACC), consist of eight arts graduates from Pakistan’s National Academy of Performing Arts, which is based in the capital.
According to Pakistan newspaper The Intrernational News, the troupe was formed in a bid to revive the arts and theatre in the country at a time when social conditions are deteriorating daily.
Azfar Ali, creator of the troupe, believes that the political unrest in the country has spurred on the formation of the group. “If you try to teach literature, philosophy and metaphors to the people in the theatre hall, then it would never work because TV in today’s Pakistan is continuously feeding the masses with serious sensational content and the people need a break,” Azfar said.
Azfar believes that improvisation comedy has a universal format which is useful in training actors. And the troupe, which was formed over a period of nine months, followed the style of “Whose line is it anyway?” but in Urdu.
Improv member Saquib Sumeer said: “I came to Karachi four years ago from Bahawalpur to do an MBA and ended up going to NAPA. When I joined this troupe, I was studying then, I was uncertain about the final product, but when an old lady came to us after the performance and said that ‘I haven’t laughed so much in my entire life’, then I concluded that I was on the right track,”
The troupe now look set to perform on a monthly basis.
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