The Playgoer: Burqas: The Musical!

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Burqas: The Musical!

Onstage satire is alive but not well in Pakistan.

“Burqavaganza” is a love story in the time of jihad. A young couple struggle to form a relationship as societal forces try to keep them apart. The satirical play, which was recently banned by the Pakistani government, doesn’t sidestep any of the country’s problems: a creeping radicalization, terrorism, government corruption, and interference by Western nations, especially the United States.

Everyone in the play, both men and women, wears a burqa. In the drama, the veil is a metaphor for hypocrisy in a “hidden nation.” But the script also mocks the burqa,  a sacred symbol in Pakistan.
Before the March ban, the play had run three times at the National Art Gallery, a prized venue in Islamabad.
But the Pakistan National Council of the Arts and the Ministry of Culture banned the play after the head of the women’s wing of Jamaat-e-Islami, the nation’s largest Islamic party, wrote a letter to the prime minister condemning the play.
A senior official at the Ministry of Culture said the play “pollutes young minds” and “should not be shown anywhere in Pakistan.” The Senate’s cultural committee concluded a venomous debate by issuing a recommendation that “plays not hurt the feelings of anyone.”
I'm glad the senate used such lame words "hurt feelings."  For that's all these tussles are usually about, aren't they.

And can you imagine our own US Senate, if confronted with a play satirizing some sacred Christian ritual practice, reacting really that differently?

An indepth video report (with fascinating clips of the how) here.

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