Independent Theatre Pakistan was founded by young theatre enthusiasts hoping to revive theatre in Pakistan by providing a platform for aspiring young artists with a focus on promoting local languages and narratives.

I was asked to art direct their first performance in Lahore called 3 Kahaniyan (3 Stories). 3 Kahaniyan is a play in three acts with three distinct storylines directed by three directors… presenting a unique challenge to build a cohesive visual theme that the audience can understand and find continuity. The central thread connecting all three acts was the struggle for identity and finding solace in a self-created madness, and I used this as a starting point to design sets and accompanying projections.

Tools
Photoshop
After Effects
Premiere Pro
Cinema 4D

Company
Independent Theatre Pakistan

Art Direction & Design
Shehzil Malik

“Bu” tells the story of two men living and working in the confined attic of a shoe shop. Surrounded by the pungent smell of leather, their whole world view is limited to their experiences in a dark box. A third character emerges to coax them to join the outside world, but ultimately his promises of freedom are not what they seem…

Touching upon themes of extremism, indoctrination and entrapment, Act 1 was a heavy mix of music and theatrics. The set design was thus kept to a symbolic version of confinement, and handdrawn projections were used to allude their setting in a shop.

“Sammi Di Vaar” is a story about an elderly Fakir (ascetic) who is visited by the young granddaughter of his lost love. The Fakir nostagically talks about his childhood sweetheart and how she became the reason for his very existence as a lowly fire-seller. Touching upon the blurred lines between fantasy and reality, the play had to visually take the audience through the memories of Fakir as he converses with the spirited young girl.

The play was also performed in a Punjabi dialect for an audience with limited knowledge of the language, so projections were used to illustrate the words spoken.

“Badshahat ka Khatma” is the esteemed playwright Manto’s take on identity, ego and man’s slow descent into madness. The story pans out in an abandoned office space where the protagonist, Manmohan, is taking refuge. Everything changes when the phone rings and he hears the seductive voice of (what he imagines to be) a beautiful woman. The voice teases and cajoles him, and soon becomes tantamount to his existence. Little does he know all is not what it seems…

This sense of mystery and the power of Manmohan’s imagination regarding the disembodied voice was brought to life by projections that were used to show the overpowering impact of Manmohan’s visions.

Credits:
Directors/ Management: Azeem Hamid + Mehreen Mir
Art Direction + Design: Shehzil Malik
Photography and Promotional materials: Omer Jilani at Happa Studios
Stage photography: Daniyal Ahmed at Happa Studios
Models: Mehreen Mir, Syed Yashfeen, Sana Khalid