It’s been 2 years since I last visited Islamabad and spent time with this wonderful group of artists. It is so good to be back!
The first time I visited Pakistan as a Fulbright Specialist in 2012, it was August and it was also Ramadan. So, in many ways I’ve come full circle. It’s hotter now than it was that August, though.
On the second day of my visit I was introduced to “The Farm”—and it is incredibly exciting to see this company that I have become so connected with finally in an artistic home.
The Farm is a perfect home for Theatre Wallay, and has so much potential to be a place where artists can gather and share their work. When we worked together on Voices of Partition in 2015, we often joked about buying a village in Spain and living there together in an artists’ commune. Well this is our village in Spain! (Complete with a beautiful, white stucco courtyard.)
Ok…I’ve never actually BEEN to Spain (but I’ve been to Oklahoma), but I imagine it so.
I arrived on Thursday, June 1 at the decidedly civilized hour of 6pm (not my usual 3AM arrival). We’ve been hard at work ever since. Every evening we gather at 6:30 at The Farm for rehearsal.
I lead a vocal warm up (I am a voice and speech professor at Ithaca College), and then we wait for the call to prayer to signal the breaking of the Ramadan fast. We share an Iftar dinner, some tea (last night I brought ice cream) and then it’s back to work: cleaning and sharpening the terrific work that David, Linda, and the TW company have already done. I am astounded by the fortitude of this group. Many are fasting since dawn in 114+ heat. When they arrive at rehearsal, they have not had food or water for approximately 9 hours. Yet they get to work. We have our sights on an invited performance this weekend. Then will follow about 12 more days of rehearsal on their own (I depart on the 12th) before they take off for Oregon! There is much to be done before then, but I know this team, and I know everything will be accomplished.
I’m sitting in my room right now watching a big storm blow in. The rain has just started, and it is bringing a break from this terrible heat. Tonight I will work on some smaller scenes with several of the actors here at my residence, because we knew an outdoor rehearsal at the farm would not be possible.
The sections we will work on are inserts for our longer, Portland version to be performed at The Artists Repertory Theatre. I’m so grateful for the invitations from that theatre and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to share On Common Ground!
– Kathleen Mulligan