by Adnan Ahmed Khan
It was mid December 2018 when my friend and colleague, Belal, had a sudden urge to run away to Karachi to become an actor. Every break in our work hours would be consumed by discussing how he could become a successful actor. After lots of arguments, he agreed to my proposition that it would be imprudent to jump the bandwagon of acting without getting proper training.
But that was not the end of my ordeal. In fact, later happenings proved that it was just the beginning. Belal, then, tasked me with finding a good training institute for actors in Islamabad. I knew I had tough task ahead. I had not heard of any acting classes in Islamabad, though I did hear of once-in-a-while kind of acting workshops. I knew of only one institute that offered acting classes – National Academy of Performing Arts or NAPA. However, NAPA is in Karachi and that is another world (about 1,700 Km to the south west of Islamabad).
Anyhow, I am not the one who gives up so easily. After extensive Googling and social media searching, I found two options. One was an acting training course spanning over 10 weeks with just 10 classes and the other was a theatre group interestingly titled “Theatre Wallay” which literally means “The ones who belong to the theatre”. They offered theater workshops occasionally.
Knowing that most of the great actors started their career from theatre, I chose theater for my friend. He was really impressed and thanked me a lot. By then, I had invested too much time and energy in this endeavor. Or maybe, somewhere deep down in my heart, I, too, had an aspiration to become an actor, which went into hibernation long ago due to lack of opportunities. This search and constant arguments with Belal brought that aspiration out of hibernation. Anyhow, the point is I did not leave it there.
I wanted to know a little more about Theatre Wallay (TW). I looked at their Facebook page, and their website, and found that they had done quite impressive job. I found that they had their own space called ‘The Farm at Bani Gala’ – Bani Gala is the place where their Farm is situated. (It draws its name from the fact that the building that they use for rehearsals and performances was meant for a poultry farm. I got to know that quite later, by the way).
The next event they announced was a theater performance – Siasat@8PM. I booked two seats for January 5, 2019, and anxiously waited for the Day. On the performance day, I opened my Google Maps, located the Farm at Bani Gala and guided Belal who was driving. Eventually, we reached the Farm, which was a secluded space in the beautiful natural settings of Bani Gala. The performance hall was cozy, and quite a good number of people had turned up for the show.
The show started in a while. The play started and our feelings changed from anxiousness to amazement after watching every artist perform his or her role to the fullest with passion and zeal. It was a wonderful spectacle and compelled me to go to the Facebook page of Theatre Wallay to make a strong recommendation.
After watching the spell binding performance, it was a foregone conclusion that we would join this group no matter what. As we came out, we were looking for Fizza Hasan – the Artistic Director and Founder of Theatre Wallay. Fizza, who was attending to the guests, and arranging dinner for the performers, managed to give us some time and provided the much-needed details of how to join Theatre Wallay WhatsApp and Email Group, which we joined immediately to stay updated about upcoming theater workshops.
Then the long wait began like the dreaded wait for the final season of Game of Thrones. Every time a new email came from TW, my heart would skip a beat. Every time I would be disappointed to know that it was not about theater workshop. I had almost given up; entire month had passed, and there was no news of acting workshop.
Finally, my wait ended, and the much-awaited email arrived in my inbox on 6th Feb. It was more than what I expected. It was not a brief theater workshop of a day or two, but a 3-months long Acting Classes to start from Feb 25, 2019. I shared the information with Belal. It was the happiest day of our life. We quickly got ourselves registered. Thus began a wonderful rollercoaster ride, the details of which require a separate blog.