The Ajoka theatre staged its new play, Charing Cross, in a jam-packed hall of Alhamra Art Centre, The Mall. The play was primarily based on the major political and social changes on Pakistani landscape with Lahore’s Charing Cross as a witness.
Written and directed by Ajoka’s executive director Shahid Nadeem, the play, takes its audience on a whirlwind journey into the Pakistan’s political history and enables them to take stock and experience the events, the stories of shattered dreams and undying hope. At the same time the play is a salute to the resilient and optimistic spirit of the people. The production reflects this spirit through song, dance and humour while narrating a grim and sorrowful tale, something which Ajoka has attempted to do over the past 33 years. It is no coincidence that Ajoka has been performing socially and politically meaningful plays in Lahore’s Alhamra complex, very much a part of the Charing Cross neighborhood, commenting on the events which are unfolding outside, even predicting them.
Creative choreographer Wahab Shah’s dance sequences enriched the play, whereas Music Director M. Aslam songs received tremendous responce. The cast includes Arshad Durrani, Usman Raaj, Sohail Tariq, Mohammad Qaiser, Muzammil Shabbir, Hina Tariq and Nabeel Butt. Newcomers include Mehreen, Kanwal, Muniba, Fahad, Imran and Asad. The play is being presented in collaboration with the Lahore Arts Council and will continue till 1st of February.
Shahid Nadeem director of the play said, “Charing Cross is a salute to the resilient and optimistic spirit of the people. The production reflects this spirit through song, dance and humour while narrating grim and sorrowful tales, something which Ajoka has attempted to do over past 33 years. It is no coincidence that Ajoka has been performing socially and politically meaningful plays in Lahore’s Alhamra complex, very much a part of the Charing Cross neighbourhood , commenting on the events unfolding outside, even predicting them,” he said.
Historic significance of Lahore’s Charing Cross
Famous for venue of historic rallies, eventful corner meetings, impressive sit-ins, candle-lit vigils and anti-government protest for decades, Lahore’s historic Charing Cross is situated in the middle of the eight-kilometre long Mall Road and is just meters away from the 1935 Punjab Assembly Building, , the 1914 Shahdin Building , the Lahore Zoo, , the Punjab Chief Minister’s office ( housed in the 1914 Masonic Hall which was closed in 1972 by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto). A grand statue of Queen Victoria had also stood at the Charing Cross once, but it was shifted to the Lahore Museum in the 1970s and replaced by a wooden model of the Holy Quran.The statue was cast in London in 1900, just a year before the legendary British monarch’s death in 1901. Charing Cross was a place where the fashionable and the rich moved about, and it still continues to be a happening place in the city. According to historians, Lahore’s Charing Cross shares its name with the Charing Cross in London, which is situated just south of the Trafalgar Square. A village by the name of “Charing” is also located near River Thames in London.