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  • Writer's pictureMarium Nadeem

Ishara – Actions speak louder than words

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

The first theatre competition that was performed entirely in Pakistan Sign Language, Ishara: Lafzon se Aagay at the IBA City Campus revolutionised the theatrical community for the years to come.

In Pakistan, the world of theatre has for so long only benefited the hearing; Ishara was an opportunity to revive community theatre by delving into the unexplored talent of the deaf. Dominated by the hearing majority, the performative power of silent acts has long been unknown to us we rely on scripts and spoken words, and never on expressive movements and gestural communication. By organising Ishara, ConnectHear gave Deaf talents the recognition that they deserve an event full of lessons learned, laughs shared and redefined stereotypes.

Groups of people belonging to the Deaf and hard of hearing community displayed various acts ranging from the winner, JS Academy’s performance that took place in a train compartment depicting the annoying passengers on a train commute, to the runners-up DEWA Academy’s drama-comedy featuring a Jolly Family, and their 2 guests. A yet another meaningful play was based on the regular life of a beggar, the moral of which was what goes around comes around.

A reinvigorating experience for both the Deaf and hearing audiences, the acts covered various significant themes ranging from socio-cultural issues, gender inequality, to economic issues. Talented performers belonging to different age groups conveyed these important messages to a sold-out crowd solely through facial expressions, body language, gestures, and nonverbal communication.

A breakthrough in the world of theatre, Ishara is proof that acting is not exclusive to hearing individuals.

We thank our judges, stand-up comedians Shehzad Ghias Shaikh, Faiza Saleem, dramatist Kulsoom Aftab (NAPA), and original content creator Ali Gul Pir for helping us in furthering our goal of Deaf culture and inclusivity for all. Ishara was Deaf theatre having its own moment a moment that’s long been due.

On bringing forth this opportunity for Deaf Individuals, Shehzad addressed the audience and spoke, “The deaf are an equally important part of our society.
Faiza also added that she “never realised that Deaf people were just as capable and talented until today.”

They both announced that if any disabled person was willing to do comedy, they would welcome them with open arms.

By providing the deaf with a platform to perform and showcase their talents, we hope to have opened up a new avenue for Deaf actors, audience, producers, and directors in the media industry. Ishara was proof that silent acts could be just as thrilling, and moving lips, and facial expressions convey a message just as good as spoken words. Creating a more inclusive space in the entertainment industry can alter it in profound ways for both the hearing and the Deaf.

With Ishara, we hope this is just the beginning.

Having organised a theatre competition catered entirely by Deaf people, our ever-evolving goal of inclusivity has been unfolding ever since and received coverage from Dawn, The News, and MangoBaaz.

The entire event was streamed live on our Facebook page, if you missed it, here’s your chance to watch it and explore the talent of our Deaf community.

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