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Sadi Puri Hogayi – Tales of women along Sindh’s coastal belt | The Express Tribune

Stories and the sea breed life; Sadi Puri Hogayi performed at Habib University on December 19, 20 and 21 weaved both for a powerful devised theatrical production inviting the audience to reflect on what is lost as the country prioritizes capitalist industrial interests in the name of progress.

Envisioned and directed by Professor Muneera Batool, Assistant Professor Communication and Design, the play is a compelling exploration of human resilience and environmental challenges centered on the lived experience of women from Sindh’s coastal villages, specifically Rehri Goth, Ibrahim Hyderi and Kharo Chan, as per a press release.

The narrative weaves in vignettes exploring the relationships between the river and the sea, a merchant and a fisherwoman, the sea and land, the sea and man and the women caught in between, and the story of a brother and sister camping by the river bed. It is through the brother and sister that the audience is invited to reflect on all these other tales and examine the relationship of the sea with the land and its forced separation from the river as man continues to prioritize capitalist interests.

Commenting on the student cast’s performance, Kulsoom Aftab, actor, writer, director and faculty member at the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA), said, “It was an honest performance by actors, filled with Muneera’s sensitive, well crafted directorial touches”.

Professor Batool was assisted by Habib University students Rowan Faiq, Qaima Hossain and Zainab Mohiuddin, who accompanied her in field visits to Rehri Goth, Ibrahim Hyderi and Kharo Chan, where they listened to the tales of local women and their encounters with climate change.

“There’s something about how one opens, when the shields go down and the person really starts sharing their stories with you, like a chasm opening. This is what I live for,” said Professor Batool on her choice of using devised theater – a method of producing a theatrical production through research based on a hunch. In this case the hunch was: what are the stories of women in Rehri Goth as they navigate the climate crisis on a daily basis. The research for this play was supported by a Habib University internal grant.

Sadi Puri Hogayi [the century has come to a close],” is what one of the interviewees at Rehri Goth said to Professor Batool and her team about an island engulfed by the sea due to climate change. She added that when you now visit this island, you can almost see the ghosts of the people who used to live here, recalls Professor Batool.

Narratives from the field were brought to the rehearsal room and put through theatrical improvisations by the student cast comprising Rihha Rehmatullah, Mustafa Jamal, Caticorn, Hana Mapara, Zehra Abbas, Areesha Akbar Haji Saleh, Masooma Rehan, Sania Motlani, Marya Khozema Darukhanawalla, Insha Mushtaq Hashmani, Rahina Shiraz Lalani, Hiba Ahmed, Semona Aamir Sattar and Haya Imtiaz.

Multimedia including design elements, sound, light and illustration, acted as supporting characters helping the cast bring the different vignettes to life.

“It is very good for students at this level to be able to work with such sophisticated theatrical techniques,” said Professor Gregory Thompson, theatre director and faculty at University College London (UCL).

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