The GC University Lahore Dramatics Club (GCUDC) staged its annual Urdu play ‘Shah-e-Alam’ which is completely a political satire and revolves around symbolic journey of despotic ruler who is intoxicated by power and wine. Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Khaleeq-ur-Rahman was the chief guest at the opening show of the play written and directed by GCUDC Advisor Sameer Ahmad. University of Education Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Faiz-ul-Hassan, veteran actor Firdous Jamal, famous TV anchor Noor-ul-Hassan and a large number eminent Old Ravians also witnessed the maiden show and applauded the performance of young university students. Salman Bhatti, an eminent Ravian, plays the lead role of King Shah Muhammad. The king’s fears are highlighted through the juxtaposition of three hallucinations: his conscience, Zameer, played by Umer Darr, Changez Khan, played by Hamza Ishfaq, and the spirit of his late wife Shah Begum played by Nayab Faiza. While Zameer reminds Shah Muhammad of the sacrifices that the public has made for the king’s pleasures, Shah Begum reminds him of the choices he has made in order to retain and expand his kingdom. Changez Khan, meanwhile, urges the king to remain a Machiavellian despot and disregard the voice of his conscience. Add to this the character of Shah Bano, the king’s daughter played by Mariam Dogar, and the king faces a multi-dimensional conflict. To add to the king’s woes, he is unaware of the conspiracy being hatched in his court. Abdullah Waleed Hashmi, Zohaib Zafar, Hammad Sohail and Umer Shehzad as the courtiers and the Mufti Sahab played by Syed Abdullah, deliver powerful performances, and it is through them that occasional comic relief is also provided in later scenes. The play’s climax is a powerful and moving culmination of the tension built over successive scenes. GCUDC President Sauud Butt, says that the play interposes between dream and reality. To achieve the kind of dramatic effect that this structure necessitates, the continuum of time and space is managed cleverly. Lights and Sounds In-charge Saad Jamal has created two time zones on one stage through the innovative use of lighting. To complement this, the space on stage is managed through pauses and breaks that shift the focus from the front of the stage to the back where the king is inebriated and on his throne. This shift creates the kind of “wilful suspension of disbelief” that drama requires for its impact to register on the audience.
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