“The reason I chose to do improvisational comedy is that it is indigenous. It is by far the most truthful form of theatre. The plays that are usually performed are either adaptation to classic plays or inspired by them. Very little original work is being done,” Haroon Said.
Meanwhile, he said that the number of plays that was staged was very less. “We don’t even see 60 plays (being performed) a year, which does not reflect a positive image of the society at all”.
Speaking with us about the scope of improvisational theater, Haroon said that if one had the passion to do something then they should not think about the consequences. They must keep walking, he added.
“When we started doing improv back in 2003, we charged Rs100 for a ticket and sometimes even less, but as people liked it the audience kept on growing and today we have an audience of our own,” Haroon said.
However, he believed there were problems along the way. Things have got worse for the theatre artists after the Musharraf regime, he added. “During Gen. Musharraf’s rule, theatre was doing relatively good, but ever since then, things haven’t been the same. It is quite difficult to book the auditorium of Karachi Arts Council for a performance even if there is nothing happening there. One has to go through a lot of hassles to obtain a commercial venue for performances,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zeeshan Haider, mentor of Saad Haroon, has started an Urdu improv troupe by the name of ‘Aisa Karoge to Kaun Aayga’. He told us that there was a greater scope for Urdu improv in Karachi. “The entertainment we had in Urdu was either in the shape of situation comedies (sitcoms) or the comic theater. Both have now become poor in terms of content and I believe that it is the right time for Urdu improv to step in,” he said.
He further said that improv was very immediate and spontaneous and, if done appropriately, could prove to be great entertainment, but if the execution was poor, it could be very embarrassing. Haider believed that it was quite difficult to make people laugh, however “in a place like Karachi where people have not much to laugh at, the performers get a humor-starved audience, which motivates the performers and the audience to become parts of the improvisational comedy.”
Similarly, founder of the KB Thespians, Abdul Aleem Sheikhani, aims to do improv in the near future and states different reasons to do so. “Spontaneous humor is not the only positive thing about it (improv). The reason I aim to do it is that there is a lot of learning in it. The training that we give to the students is largely based on improvising from vocal training to putting oneself in the shoes of the character.”
He was of the opinion that humor always proved to be a remedy for the people disturbed by socio-political problems. “We aim to do improv on a regular basis so that on every weekend there could be a venue for the people to find entertaining.”