In collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium, Theatre Wallay produced an evening of two plays by Maurice Maeterlinck (1862–1949), the distinguished Belgian playwright, poet, and essayist who wrote in French and was honored with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1911.
Renowned for his Symbolist plays, Maeterlinck’s works were characterized by their minimal action, mysticism, fatalism, and a pervasive exploration of death. Employing poetic language, nuanced lighting, carefully crafted settings, and symbolic gestures, his plays served as a Symbolist response to the prevailing materialism and mechanization of the time. They delved into themes of immortality, the soul, the nature of death, and the pursuit of wisdom.
The two selected short plays, “Interior” and “The Blind,” (which we performed in their Urdu version translated by Shaukat Niazi) manifest existential themes, portraying the interplay of vision and its absence, an eerie sense of waiting, and an anticipation of death in a spiritually barren world. Since their inception, these plays have been subject to diverse interpretations, often reflecting their respective periods’ political and social climates.
In light of the uncertainties of our contemporary era, marked by the consequences of the relentless pursuit of wealth leading to widespread wars and suffering, a world where religion may guide but spiritualism appears dormant, and an impending climate catastrophe threatening our future, we chose a surreal setting for our plays. This setting mirrors our collective concerns—a desolate wasteland where the path forward is obscured, lacking a guide, and shrouded in an uncertain future.
Central to our interpretation was the climate crisis, and our set design reflected this commitment by being crafted entirely from recycled materials. This intentional choice aligns with our mission to bring awareness to the world’s pressing issues, underscoring the need for sustainable practices and a renewed connection to the environment.
The plays were performed at the PNCA Auditorium on 24th November, and at The Farm at Bani Gala on 25th and 26th November 2023.
The cast and crew of the plays were as follows:
Directed by – Usama Ahmed Khan
The Old Man – Imran Iftikhar
The Stranger – Ramil Aftab
Mary – Minahil Ramil
Martha – Maria Habib
The Father – Casim Ovais
The Mother – Fizza Hasan
Daughter 1 – Nihal Farid
Daughter 2 – Saboora Marium
Priest – Imran Iftikhar
Blind Man 1 – Zia ur Rehman
Blind Man 2 – Adil Yousaf
Blind Man 3 – Ramil Aftab
Oldest Blind Man – Casim Ovais
Blind Man 5 – Tayyab Ali
Blind Man 6 – Muhammad Zahid
Oldest Blind Woman – Fizza Hasan
Young Blind Woman – Saboora Marium
Mad Blind Woman – Maria Habib
Blind Women at Prayer – Minahil Ramil, Nihal Farid
Set Design – Fahad Tariq
Sound and Light Design – Zidaan Hayat
Costume Design – Fizza Hasan