Socialist Worker

Paines Plough hosts new playwrights from Pakistan

Issue No. 2059

Paines Plough is one of the country’s best known touring theatre companies. It is dedicated to discovering, developing and producing new contemporary works for the theatre.

For their latest project they have turned to Pakistan, commissioning three short plays that explore the politics of the subcontinent and its relationships to Britain.

Salman Shahid is one of playwrights working with Paines Plough. His play and that of his fellow Pakistani writer Bilal Hasan Minto examine the effects of Islamist movements on the country, he told Socialist Worker.

“Bilal’s play Glad Tidings deals very directly with the situation around the Red Mosque in Islamabad,” he said, “while my story Abdullah is more indirect, looking at the paranoia that the fundamentalism issue creates and the clash of value systems.

“The third play Freedom Pass is by Anita Mir, who now is based in London. It looks at the situation in Britain of racism and the British National Party. So all three plays are very different.”

The idea to put on readings of the three plays at the Soho Theatre in London came from Roxana Silbert, artistic director of Paines Plough.


“We get a lot of British plays from second generation Asian writers, but we wanted to get direct access to the voices coming from Pakistan at the moment,” she told Socialist Worker.

“We’re hoping to go back to Pakistan with these three plays and produce them there – we’ve just started talking about touring in the region.”

Other plans for Paines Plough include staging a series of new works by playwright Mark Ravenhill at the Traverse Theatre during the Edinburgh Festival, she adds.

Rehearsing and putting on the plays in Britain has been a “great experience”, says Salman. “This is a fabulous opportunity for all three of us. I hope in some form we can continue with this.”

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Tue 10 Jul 2007, 18:14 BST
Issue No. 2059
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