Theatre has been an essential element of the Pakistani Culture for long. From the times when Pakistan was a mere infant, theatres have survived to tell stories and to entertain their audience. From Agha Hassan’s Inder Sabha to Sadat Manto and to the comedies of Umer Shareef, theatre has strived to maintain its rightful place in our society. However, with the breakthrough of the Television and the onset of dramas and films, the theatre began to face the visage of near bereavement. They have almost become extinct and only a very few fossils persist to this day. One of these extraordinarily amazing fossils is the Rafi Peer Theatre in Lahore, which was started by Peerzada family.
Theatre has been repeatedly infused as a cultural norm in the nation. Their appeal is very much alive to this day, it had only been dormant to say and Rafi Peer Theatre is a paramount example of this. This particular theatre has broken all the social and economic taboos that stood in its way, and is providing the people the same traditional satisfaction that theatres did in olden days.
What started in 1974 as a puppet theatre has undergone a great deal of nourishment and growth, and has now evolved into a magnificent incarnation of any great theatre of any great country. Though originally and largely known for its dumbfounding puppetry, the Rafi Peer theatre has hosted about nineteen international festivals of puppetry, dance, drama, music and film in the last thirteen years.
We, in fact, owe the Rafi Peer Theatre for preserving and promoting our cultural identity and enigma for so many years. Though the country’s culture, traditions and values are facing a continuous danger of being exterminated by the drones of Western imposition via television, the Rafi Peer Theatre stands in their way as sturdy as the Great Wall of Mengs did in front of the advancing invaders. Terrorism and extremism has inflicted, indubitably, a fatal and resounding blow to the Theatre, and henceforth it is a matter of great complexity to arrange such festivals.
The incidents like the fateful 9/11 or the astounding Lal Masjid have greatly influenced the Pakistani culture to be at a loss at the hands of terrorism and extremism. Alien cultures are trying their hardest to find a breach in our culture in order to penetrate their outlandish roots in Pakistan and if we were not for the like of the Rafi Peer Theatre; we would have lost the battle a long time ago.
Theatres like Rafi Peer should be encouraged and abundant, so as to preserve the Pakistani culture in a protective, shatterproof shell of Pakistani pride.