Azad Theatre is a new emerging theatre with a mission to provide entertainment free of prejudice and discrimination. Its aim is to bring a positive social change in society whose outlook has become extremely tense because of terrorism and socio-economic problems. There used to be festivals and other entertainment activities which have almost lost their existence. Realising the changing mood of the society, a group of professional people decided to do something for the common man. For the purpose, they laid the foundation of Azad Theatre with aim to provide entertainment opportunities. They took start from cultural and classical pieces of writings to perform on stage to create awareness about the importance of literature about which mostly youths are unaware.

However, the group has made itself multi dimensional by adding different productive aspects for the youth and new comers. It is open the young writing talent who have craze for writing and production to come and join the group. According to the director Sarfaraz Ansari, “The Theatre Writer Competition provides the opportunity to develop creative, intellectual and practical skills and explore all aspects of theatre performance and production. Anyone who can write good script would be more than welcome in the group.”

On the other side it also focuses to hone the acting skills of the newcomers and those who want to join the theatre industry. The group aims to provide classical and contemporary theatre education by Acting and Theatre Skills Workshop programmes. The group has started its mission and is reaching out to people in Punjab. This enables everyone and anyone, of any age or background, to discover more about the Azad Theatre’s work and the staff and artists who create it.

The group consists of very experienced and dynamic team. Most of its members have many years of experience of theatre industry. Everyone in the team has attended several workshops globally and has learnt national and international techniques of theatre.

According to the management, “Azad Theatre will produce over 2 theatre productions, staged at least 20 times a year. These productions have already started in February and will continue till February 2017. These theatre productions will be staged in auditoriums around all over Pakistan. The process started from Punjab targeting Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad and Multan this year will extend to Sindh in 2013, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa in 2014 and in 2015 they will move to Baluchistan.

“The purpose of these tours is hone the acting abilities of those who are working in far of areas and do not get proper opportunities. Azad Theatre will visit these regions and work with small groups of performing art. It will promote them and bring forward the new talent.”

In Lahore, the theatre presented its performance of Rustam O Sohrab at Alhamara. The plot play was taken from a famous Iranian historical story of Rustam and Sohrab by Agha Hashar Kashmiri which was written in 1930. The play began with Rustam’s search of his horse which was stolen by some knights of Samangan. Finding traces of his horse, he reached there and became the guest of the king. During his stay, he fell in love with princess Tehmina and got married secretly. After spending few days as guest of kingdom he left Samangan never to come back. Tehmina gave birth to Rustam’s son Sohrab who became a known fighter. Both father and son never met each other until they faced each other in a battle between Iran and Toraan. Sohrab knew that he was the son of Rustam so he declared many times in fight that he was will not fight with Rustam. But Rustam kept his name secrete and did not disclose it Sohrab during fight with him. After a long battle Rustam felt week and stabed Sohrab. Tehmina who came to rescue became late and reached when her son was lying dead in the lap of his father.

It was a two hours performance which kept the audience glued to their seats. Every performance presented their best but huge applause came in the share of Usman Zia (Rustam) and Shoaib Haider (Sohrab). The costumes were designed by Aliya Abbasi and Nadeem and choreography was done by Alia Abbasi.

When inquired from Sarfaraz Ansari about the purpose of the play and why the group selected the particular play at this time, he said, “Apparently the play was based on the war between Iran and Toraan. But the real motive behind this play was to show that one should not sell his integrity and self esteem and would not allow any kind of interference from foreign powers. Keeping this in mind the British Government placed a ban on this play with the help of local capitalists.

“Our present situation is very much relevant to this play. We are losing our dignity. Foreign powers are assaulting Pakistan in form of drone attacks and other violation. Our rulers are doing nothing and the people feel helpless.”

The marriage of Rustam and Princess Tehmina represented another beautiful aspect of the play that if conflicts have created borders then natural, cultural and traditional values can bridge these gaps.

The little attempt in which Azad Theatre has done has affects on large scale. The aim for which they have started struggle is not less than a worship. Although there are a few other theatre groups but Azad Theatre has proved itself in a short time of one year since its inauguration in 2011. People are happy that new groups are emerging which believes in quality performance.