World Theatre Day: Historical Glance and its Declining Phase in Pakistan

Sehrish Khan

Theatre is the platform of performing arts by the artists. Actors and actresses perform live in front of the audience in a specific place, often stage.

Theatre was originated in the early 6th BC by Greek in Athens, where tragedy plays were performed in the religious festival. By 4th Century BC Roman theatre sprung including street theatre, acrobatics, festival performances ranging from comedy to tragedy plays and nude dancing.

Simultaneously, Persian theatre was also rising with ceremonial theatres glorify the national heroes back then 478 BC. Later, in 1500BC Chinese theatre between the Shang Dynasty was in flow consisting of music, clowning, and acrobatics.

Around 1570s English Elizabethan theatre was in practice in London. However, in Japan, Noh the oldest and Kabuki which begins in the 1600s are the forms of theatre that are carried as there arts legacy.

Around the globe, two types of theatre are being practiced which are European theatre that focuses on the subject identity and Western theatre that focuses on the tragedy which depicts the suffering of a heroic individual who is often overcome by the obstacles and struggles to remove it.

Despite the vast options in theatre forms from musical, solo, historical, comedy, tragedy and aristocratic, the previous century was the era where many things have experimented in theatre from realism and naturalism.

“Theatre”, profoundly holds the record of being the oldest medium of storytelling and entertainment in one go show. The man who is and will always be remembered in changing the format of the plays was William Shakespeare. Devastatingly, it is highly observed that with time lack of interest is being developed in the audience towards the theatre especially in an elite class, due to the negligence and overlooking of concern authorities. Youth is declining towards the entertainment which circulates around parting, vulgar comedy, concerts and hanging out, while lacks in moral, cultural and literature values.

Indian/Asian theatre started from Sanskrit theatre around 2nd Century BC but flourished between 2nd to 10th Century AD. Before independence, plays were mostly based on religious, cultural, historical or based on love stories.

The performances used to be jam-packed without any personal targeting over the two different nations Hindus and Muslims living together. On the other hand, English plays were equally common which represents the rich culture of the Britishers.


After independence Pakistan inherited Urdu and English theatre. With the changing time trend changes, Pakistan has to face many turnovers of the government which directly affects the arts and literature of the Muslims. Before Zia’s regime theatre was free but moral, cultural and literature values were kept under consideration which proves to be the set back due to his policies.

After Zia’s era, the motive of the theatre was entirely changed, by becoming commercialized, spreading vulgarity, neglecting the traditional and cultural values, nepotism, lack of proper training arts institutes, decreasing of regularity performances, division among audiences based on class and economic power, delay and non-payment issue.

Again in the era of the Musharaf era theatre somehow started to revive the trend of fading theatre through Arts Council Karachi and NAPA, National Academy of Performing Arts in the city of lights “Karachi” through their quality plays under the presidentship of legendary Zia Mohyeddin. Academy, emphasize more over the trend of Commercial theatre but without compromising over the quality of plays while giving chance to the new talent.

World Theatre Day is celebrated around the globe by the artists on 27th March, which was commenced by the International Theatre Institute since 1961.

Downfall of Theatre in Pakistan:

The reason behind specifying a particular day was to limelight the fading trend of theatre and to revive the thrilling century’s old form of entertainment which is being neglected due to the modern form of entertainment which is television, which is the threat for the brilliant theatre artist, as switch towards the electronic media for more fame.

Being a vital avenue of education and a form of the national identity of a particular country, theatre is left abandoned. Surprisingly, after being commercial form it made non-eligible, non-professional or newly turned producers sponsor over the work which is the reason for spreading vulgarity in the name of arts.

It’s not the fault of the youth to turn their faces from theatre as they have seen the theatres which surely have the exploiting elements live numerous seductive dance moves, vulgar comedy, improper dresses, and punch lines.

It is the responsibility of every artist to carry the old authentic tradition long. The magic of theatre should be carried forwards where a person can make people happy and satisfied with their present work. Theatre can greatly impact the masses through their work. As in the past one of the reasons for revolution was theatre, the mean of coving message to the audience.

As theatre is the oldest form of entertainment with one go show, without any retake and exclusive of any sort of margin for the mistake. The responsibility totally lies over the masses, we all should go and encourage the artists, who practice selflessly for months to perform flawlessly with the intense trust and coordination in front of the huge crowd, what they need in return is just appreciation.

Govt Support Needed:

The government should increase the funds for arts institutions. Concern authorities should keenly keep check and balance over the created content, where no literature, culture or moral values of the nation gets humiliated.

On the other hand, more institutions should be established, passionate and dedicated instructors should be hired to carry the legacy of the art by bringing out the best from the emerging talent under proper guidance.


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