The World Shakespeare Festival & my experience of “The Taming of the Shrew”

The Olympics 2012 is almost around the corner and keeping in stride of all the celebrations, The Globe theatre in London are hosting a series of 37 plays by Shakespeare in multiple languages. I had the opportunity to attend this World Shakespeare Festival and watch the Urdu version of the famous play by Shakespeare –“Taming of the Shrew” which was held on the 26th of May 2012.

Now I must admit I wasn’t particularly interested in the play initially. Shakespeare’s plays have never really captured my interest as such. In truth I found them too dry and at times just too hard to muster at college, but my younger sister was adamant about going. She’s a huge fan of one of the actor’s –Osman Khalid Butt who is a famous you-tuber and theatre actor/director in Pakistan. He was playing the famous role of Hortensio or in this case Hasnat.

So we made our way down to Shakespeare’s globe that evening and stood among the crowd. It was a pleasant surprise to see such a vast amount of mixed nationalities among the expected Asian crowd. Since the play was completely in Urdu they must have understood quite a fair amount to have stayed for the complete duration.

The event has left me in awe of the Pakistani theatre and their superb performance and I doubt this article could do justice to the level of skill and talent they exhibited throughout the play. However I do aim to try, so sit back and read on. I hope you enjoy my feeble attempt at jotting down all that I encountered that night.

Shakespeare's Globe

Shakespeare’s Globe

The Globe has been built with an architecture similar to the Coliseum in Ancient Rome. The beautiful circular structure is designed so as to give a perfect view of the stage to the entire audience. There are three levels of seats for spectators as well as a large area for a fair amount of bystanders.

On this particular evening, the weather was warm and a cool breeze made the whole experience more enjoyable. The stage was set with a live traditional music band in the corner who played their instruments at appointed times during the entire performance. Since we (My younger sister, older brother and I) were at the lowest level of the theatre among the other onlookers, we got to be closest to the stage for the complete duration.

Shakespeare's Globe-The stage

Shakespeare’s Globe-The stage

The entire performance had me hooked right from the very beginning. As soon as    Kate or in this particular case ”Kiran” (Nadia Jamil) made her entrance, the whole  globe became as silent as a funeral home as her voice resonated across the walls of the theatre.

 Rustam (Omair Rana) & Kiran (Nadia Jamil)

Rustam (Omair Rana) & Kiran (Nadia Jamil)

The play was re-written and the dialogues were transformed (from the original version) so as to capture the audience’s attention, leave an impact as well as teach a lesson in a most ironic fashion. The idea in this play was to create a harmony between the husband and wife (Kiran & Rustam) rather than go with the domineering and authoritative way in which Shakespeare has originally portrayed the man. Instead of being crushed to obedience and acting as a “man’s property”, the shrew(Kiran) very proficiently manages to mould herself and changes her character after she is finally made to understand her worth by the cunning, caring and unique ways her husband(Rustam) has of approaching her. This banter between the two was one of the most humorous aspects of the entire play.

Rustam and Kiran in-action-Epic performance

Rustam and Kiran in action-Epic performance


Each dialogue was delivered to the highest level of perfection, and all the actors worked well together. A particular favourite of mine was Omair Rana (Rustam) and it was a pleasure to see him perform right before my eyes. The degree to which he was absorbed inside his role left little to be asked for.

The play was directed well and I applaud Hassaim Hussain for all his hard work and effort. There was a lot to be admired ranging from all the traditional colourful costumes which did complete justice to the Pakistani culture, right down to the very delivery which each actor managed to exude with a commendable amount of precision.

Rustam,Qazim(one of Bina's admirer's) and the hilarious old man(with the farting problem)who's name I cant seem to remember!

Rustam,Qazim(one of Bina’s admirer’s) and the hilarious old man(with the farting problem)who’s name I cant seem to remember!

Another angle of the magnificent Stage

Another angle of the magnificent Stage

The best part was when the actors would suddenly pop out through the back doors behind the audience, make their way through the crowd and finally continue their act up on the stage. Ravi (Maria Khan) had us all laughing our heads off as she wound her way in and out of the crowd shaking a basket full of chick peas shouting “Channay khaanay hain?” (Would you like some channay?)

Ravi(Maria Khan) and her comical performance

Ravi(Maria Khan) and her comical performance

The band was well-coordinated. The swish of the colourful fabric which made up Kiran’s costume as she danced and swayed back and forth across the stage in complete harmony with the sound of the flute was breathtakingly beautiful.

It was a moment of pride for all Pakistani’s to see an Urdu performance in one of the most famous theatre’s in England. The play started at 7.00 p.m. as scheduled and lasted for three hours with a twenty-minute interval at 9.30 p.m. and finally ending at 10.30 p.m. amid a huge amount of applause and cheers from the audience.

The complete cast

The complete cast

All in all, the three of us had a wonderful night.

Taken right after we dragged ourselves out at 11.00p.m

Taken right after we dragged ourselves out at 11.00p.m

We even managed to stay back after the performance, meet Omair Rana and Osman Khalid Butt as well as get a couple of pictures taken with each one, which have left my friends regretting they missed it!

For a complete review of play’s story line you can look here:

Globe to Globe: The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare’s Globe

The Taming of the Shrew – review

The impact of a simple word

Writers have always intrigued me right from the very beginning. I love reading and I always wondered how a writer’s mind worked, the stroke of genius which enables them to so eloquently from words into long meaningful sentences and come up with entire novels which are then read by the millions across the world.Image

Isn’t it fascinating how their simple books and articles manage to impact the masses in such a profound way?  These simple words are reflected upon, read and re-read and then quoted, time and time again.

Yet despite seeming like such a simple and hassle free job, being a writer is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Every word has to be carefully measured, written so as to completely explain the meaning without trying to mislead the reader.

Inspiration is the most important thing while writing. To some it may come naturally but to others, a lot of time and concentration has to be devoted just to come up with a simple paragraph.

Writing new articles to publish in my blog has my mind spinning like a Ferris wheel at times, back tracking through multiple encounters with different people across different phases of my life. Writing seems to bring back all those little incidents and past memories which are sometimes taken for granted and at other times just long forgotten.

ImageWhile writing, a writer not only has to focus on the basic topic at hand. Every single gesture, movement, flicker of the eye, tick of the clock has to be taken into consideration and pondered upon. The detailed description of every single one of these external factors is mandatory, to not only draw a vivid image in the reader’s mind, but to draw their attention to the main incident which you wish to describe. Only then can you come up with a master piece worth reading.

Remember, words leave a lasting impact. An impact so great can leave not only a lasting presence but also has the ability to change a person in the most drastic of ways.

A Moment to Remember

This short movie is about a father’s power of forgiveness for his children and man’s complete vulnerability at the hands of fate .Quite similar to the novel :”The notebook” written by Nicholas Sparks which was later converted into a film,this movie tells the tale of a young girl,the mistakes she made in her youth and how she finally found true happiness.  Not long after however,her life took a turn for the worst when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease leading to a rapid loss of memory.

Watching this movie has made me realize that life comes with no guarantees.No matter how bad your past or how the grim the future may seem,always live in the moment and for the moment because these are the little events which later make up the best of memories.

Slight drawback-This movie isn’t in English and you will have to activate the small “cc” icon at the bottom of the screen for the English subtitles.However it’s worth the effort. Enjoy! 🙂

You can run but you can’t hide

And so that long-awaited last day of the second semester finally arrived and I started my long, early morning trek to university. It was one of those long boring “Computer Based Technology” lectures, ones that I had slowly begun to dread owing to the fact that the French guy that taught us aided more in putting us all to sleep instead of helping us focus on the topic he was teaching. Now I’m not usually one to let my attention waver while being taught and so, since it was the last lecture and I was feeling all optimistic (owing to the fact that I had a five month summer break in store),I decided to focus and pay attention to what was being taught.

During the course of the lecture the topic that frequently came up for discussion was the ‘internet’. The internet has become a medium for the smallest of tasks, the platform for communication, the biggest source of information, and the means for all forms of social networking and interactions across the globe.

Yet for some, the internet is nothing more than a curse. A horror which has robbed them of their privacy and left them feeling naked and insecure. To you, this statement may be hard to muster and take in. However it is true none the less.

There are people out there today who are so afraid of the internet that the very word rocks them to their core. They consider the internet a social evil. A platform which advertises all forms of immorality and allows one to pry on other people’s lives and take advantage of them.

This concept is particularly prevalent among the older generations of our society and so instead of embracing the change and the new possibilities, they cower from it and prevent people under their influence from taking advantage of all the opportunities the internet has to offer.

To some of you, what I’m saying may seem over rated and untrue but this is something which I have witnessed and seen myself, especially in Pakistan. Parents with little or no knowledge of the internet are influenced by those horrible tales they’ve been told of how children have been exploited over the internet and completely restrict their kids by cutting off all access they have to the internet. Though these incidents are most often true, they can always be prevented beforehand by taking certain precautions which include refraining from publicly posting any personal information or pictures of yourselves on the internet.

There was this one line which my lecturer repeated over and over again and it really struck me as something which needs to be instilled in us today.

“People will always try to exploit your ignorance, don’t give them the opportunity.”

This has really got me thinking, that aren’t we really giving people the opportunity to violate our rights and take advantage of us by not learning about our rights in the first place? The world is cruel place and people are out to get you on every turn you take. For this reason isn’t it better to face all those new things and forms of technology, understand them and use them instead of trying to bottle ourselves up to any new ideas? Without knowing what we’re up against we are only aiding all those people to help destroy us. And so this statement sums up some of the truest of words, the meaning of which when grasped can help us see things for what they truly are, rather than what they appear to be.

My opinion of the camel hump

For those of you that live in the West, ever spotted a girl wearing a hijab (modest covering worn by Muslim women but mostly a term used for the head scarf, worn as a symbol of modesty, privacy and protection from unwanted attention) and supporting what looks like a humongous camel hump at the back of her head? Reminds me of “Mega Mind”. The movie with that smart funny little blue alien and his overly large brain. Here’s a picture of my little hero!

Mega Mind-My little blue hero!

Mega Mind-My little blue hero!

Sometimes I just smile at the utter ridiculousness of what people nowadays consider fashion.

Returning to Britain after a long time, one of the biggest eye openers among many others is the sudden change I have noticed in the way people now dress. Not going into the fact that people have slowly but surely begun to shed their clothes like a snake sheds its skin, Muslim(Believer in one God-Allah, and follower of the religion called Islam brought by the Prophet Muhammad) girls have begun to misinterpret and portray a very wrong image of themselves and the hijab they wear.

I’m not here to preach and neither do I in any way qualify as a religious scholar, but I really don’t understand the need to create a huge hump at the back of your head. In my opinion it makes the head look deformed. I always wondered how they did it, until I saw a YouTube tutorial on how to get the biggest hump. The process involves tying your hair into a big bun at the back of your head and then attaching a large-flowered clutch and layering your scarf around it to give it extra volume. (Forgive me if I’m wrong girls, I’m no expert).I mean why bother? All that hassle just to make your head look like an egg gone wrong?

Turns out fashion has taken a turn for the worst when it comes to certain hijab styling’s, the camel hump being the first and foremost on the “Do not attempt” list.

What’s really scary is the fact that there is a hadith pin pointing exactly this and I quote:

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) stated in a sahih hadith from Muslim:

“There are two types of the people of Hell whom I have not seen: Men in whose hands are whips like the tails of cattle, with which they beat the people and women who are clothed yet naked, maa’ilaat mumeelaat, with their heads like the humps of camels, tilted to one side. They will not enter Paradise nor even smell its fragrance.”

This hadith speaks for itself. The part about men refers to those people in power who beat the people unjustly, like police officers etc., whether it is done by order of the state or otherwise. Scholars think that “Heads like the humps of camels” refers to these modern hijab tying styles I mentioned above which are extremely prevalent in our society today.

I do admit some of the hijab styles look extremely elegant and dignified. Those different colour combinations and elaborate wrapping of the cloth into new styles sometimes has me in awe of what one can achieve given the time and will especially since I can never be asked to put so much effort into it and still stick to my plain old black and white’s.

Are we going back in time?

The other day I was randomly reading something on the internet when I suddenly came across this article which completely grossed me out. I’m sure that most of you are very happily munching away at every edible fast food snack around, unaware of the amount of junk that goes into it. Literally. I’m also quite certain that most of you did not know that you have consumed around 70,000 cochineal beetles according to a study, which reports that it is a common agent used to manufacture red dye which is used in our industrial packaged food. Ready to puke up yet or do you want more?

This same article also mentioned a list of equally disgusting materials ranging from beaver anal glands, fish bladders, sand, rat hair etc.[1] which are put into our food, yet these same manufacturing companies fail to mention at the back of the package in the ingredients section. I’m sure vegetarians are having a ball after reading this.

Setting aside the industrial food manufacturers for a minute, and focusing on one of the most expensive and well known delicate cuisines of the world. Sushi. Yes, you got it, raw fish. Sushi originally the creation of Japanese is now consumed worldwide. Apart from eating raw fish, according to the most experienced and specialised chefs of the world, a steak is best served rare. In lay man’s terms-raw.

Isn’t it ironic that man in the dark ages consumed raw meat and went around naked,and we too are following a similar pattern today?

Our fashion industry is a real hit these days. Models are paraded in front of the masses dressed in some of the most bizarre and revealing costumes yet very cleverly concealed using leaves and elaborately styled items which sometimes make no sense at all.

So women in general and men included are stripping themselves of their shame by losing their garments similar to how a snake sheds its skin.

Is this really modernisation or are we slowly losing our integrity by going back to our roots and becoming what we once were, a person from the dark ages with no defined laws or regulations. No accountability within society and no limitations.

The question remains, though we seem to be making a number of outstanding discoveries in science and technology, why have we decided to forgo our common sense when it comes to clothing and food. Are we slowing reverting back to what we were all those years ago back in the dark ages? Savage, naked, and capable of consuming anything and everything just to satisfy our appetites or are we better than this?

Does smoking make me cool?

 2008

C’mon man, what’s the big deal. It’s only one little puff from a small little tube. How harmless could it be?  It looks so cool, no?! All the girls will think we’re way up there, so classy and confident. Besides what’s life without taking a few dares, running a few risks, accepting a challenge. You’re not gna die *scoff*. Nuh uh, you’re way too young for that! Abi tw bhaut saal paray hain yaar! Chall pee cigarette, cool lgna hai k nai?(you still have a lot of years,go on smoke the cigarette,do you wanna look cool or not?) Be a man!

Struggling to fight his own conscience as well as not wanting to look like a wimp by refusing to take up the dare, he finally takes the cigarette and inhales deeply. Ah, not bad. I could get used to this, he thinks.

Let’s fast forward a few years:

2012

7 a.m. in the morning he struggles out of bed into the bathroom and stares at himself in the mirror. Blood shot tired eyes, rumpled hair which he was once so proud of now slowly beginning to thin, pale skin already losing the youthfulness and colour it once had and worst of all those greyish black lips and yellow teeth.  What an attractive look for a 22-year-old he sarcastically says to himself as he tries hard to spruce up his once glowing face. One hour later, and he’s already reeking of cigarettes. Shit, he thinks to himself. I really need to quit!

Sounds familiar eh? We’ve all come to that one point in our lives when the most dangerous and repulsive habit’s seem to take on somewhat of a fascinating and daring stance mostly owing to the company of friends with whom we are with as well as that certain phase in our life when we can’t seem to comprehend the turn of events our life seems to be taking.

Yes, we’ve all lived through “the horror” of being a teenager and some of you might still be going through that phase (myself included). That time when we seemed to be shunned by society, bombarded with peer pressure and over powered by emotions we had absolutely no idea existed.

Despite the fact that this sacred teenage period of your life may come with its ups and downs, one of the larger challenges all of us face is that of smoking. Yup you got it! I know you must be nodding your head up and down now being able to relate to exactly what I’m saying. Every one of us has been challenged with the idea of whether or not to take that cigarette and give it a go.

This is not the story of just one guy; smoking has now become a social norm. Not only is it prevalent among guys of our society but girls are now becoming more and more courageous day by day, refusing to take a back step. Why should the guys get to have all the fun, they ask as they giggle away among themselves. And so they all sit around that table in their group of friends and smoke together.

The most common form of smoking these days is shisha (Yes, it is a form of smoking and just as harmful if not more). Shisha clubs have slowly but surely gained popularity among the youth. Not being allowed, and without the proper availability of areas where youth these days can hang out and catch up with their friends, they instead revert to such activities in complete defiance to what they have been taught. Lahore now has an abundance of such café’s where the rich and middle class youth gather, chill krnay k leyay(to chill). After all, life comes with no guarantees; why not enjoy ourselves a bit they say.

While it may seem all bad to some, the good part is that with the wider use of the internet and the many “Quit smoking programmes” available, kids these days have now started to become more aware of the detriments of smoking. It is not considered such a cool habit as it once was. Increase in the death toll of young people has taught us that no one is scheduled to live up to eighty. Most youth have realised that smoking is a disgusting habit; it’s more like signing a contract which will swindle your money and aid in your death. I call it slow suicide.

So for all of you looking for an outlet for your stress or depressions, don’t pick up that cigarette. Pick up that chocolate bar instead. I guarantee you it’s not as bad, and I swear it’s a whole lot yummier!