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Festival hangover

Recollecting the promise that YPAF brought

Festival hangover

I was looking in my closet and wishing for winters to come sooner. There was this vague chill in the air that did not quite qualify as winter but something that foretold that it was, in fact, somewhere around the corner.

This was a big day. The beginning of a festival. And here I was deciding what to wear. I picked up my old blue shirt and a coat and there I was my old and new self, mingled together.

It was Alhamra Cultural Complex where I was headed to. The Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop’s office had been shifted there due to the Youth Performing Arts Festival (YPAF) and I was the Festival Program and Coordination Executive.

The building of the Complex was transformed into a beautiful site where different light channels had been erected in a magnificent way. The place looked spectacular, especially at night. I remember gawking at this the night before the festival and my energy shifted into a positive realm thanks to the realisation that this was really happening. All the months of hard work were eventually culminating into this and we were finally here for the big show.

Some days are oddly brighter than the rest. The first day of YPAF was one of them. Bright-er.

It was just a matter of opening the office door and I realised that YPAF had actually begun. Everyone and everything was working.

If I look at the YPAF as an outsider, I would be amazed that such events are still happening in the country despite all odds.

Gradually, as the office room (which was actually a longish room) was filled with people, the air around the office shifted. We were knitted in some way to make things work out. Even if that meant doing something that did not come under our work domain we went ahead to do it. We were all together in it to make it happen.

As the clock struck 4 of clock, after the press conference, the event rolled into full swing. At half past four, the time for the theatre groups to showcase their talents had come. With more than 30 theatre groups competing with each other, hailing from different institutions (schools and universities) as well as private groups, the YPAF was an unparalleled exhibition of talent.

Each theatre group was given a day to perform at the festival which also included dance, singing, and short film competitions.

Each performance being judged, the air of competing with each other was everywhere. From the makeup rooms to the backstage, the group members were on their toes. Some carried around huge props while others looked so anxious as if this was a matter of their life and death. They had forgot everything else and just focused on putting up a great show to win the coveted Youth Award on the last day of the festival.

A group, I recall, begged for delaying their performance by at least five minutes just because one of their cast members was taking long trying to fit into his costume!

The days passed like this. With energies rising high and sometimes low, we made it till the end with grace.

If I look at the YPAF as an outsider, I would be amazed that such events are still happening in the country despite all odds. I would also be amazed at the level of talent that is present in the youth of this country. And, I would be amazed at the promise this all brings.

Muneera Batool

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