SLAMABAD: “Silver Lining”, a play produced and performed by the junior section of The City School’s Capital Campus, focused on the fundamental rights of children. The play opened on the second day of the European Union’s National ChildRight Arts Festival 2011.
Fifth and sixth graders actively participated in the production, including pitching ideas for the concept and direction. The play was headed by their teachers, Asma Baloch and Nomana Sohail.
The title of the play is fitting given its premise revolving around Zeerak (played by Umair Afzal) who manages to overcome a seemingly bleak and unpromising situation. Zeerak’s salvation comes when his cousin Asher (played by Muhammad Azlan) visits Zeerak’s tribal area to attend his sister, Gulrukh’s wedding (played by Hafsa Balqees).
The friendship and interaction between Zeerak and Asher opens their eyes to each others contrasting realities. Zeerak’s reality of terrorism, illiteracy, child abuse and beatings troubles Asher who finds it unfair. Zeerak on the other hand, is greatly impressed by Asher’s prowess, confidence and vast general knowledge. He yearns for a similar life where he can seek an education in anything besides gunnery and violence.
Asher’s encouragement to keep in touch via letters inspires the advent of Zeerak’s information education as Asher sends him study material. Despite immense hurdles, Zeerak manages to pass high school. His hard work pays off and he receives a scholarship at Harvard University where he excels and is offered a financially alluring job in the US. He rejects the offer and returns home instead to focus his efforts on fostering an environment that combats illiteracy in his tribal area. His efforts pay off when a school is erected in his name.
In addition to the play’s central focus on the fundamental rights of children to education, other issues such as Gulrukh’s marriage to a much older uncle are also addressed to highlight the harsh realities of early-age marriages without consent to a much older man. Intermarriage is also discussed. A scene depicting Zeerak’s rude awakening to racism in the US addresses an issue many Pakistanis still face abroad. The racist mentality prevails in the minds of the aggressors despite the huge hurdles people like Zeerak face to overcome the very terrorism people base racism on.
Baloch commented on the issues discussed in the play saying that “children have various rights but education is by far the most pressing one and yet is most under-provided in our society.”