The Higher Education Commission has conducted two plays by Mandi Bahauddin Usman Ali, a Pakistani teacher, playwright, director, actor, researcher and translator, in the MPhil English course.
Usman Ali is a unique literary personality of Pakistan who destroyed the myth of favorable environment and big cities and institutions excelling in their trade. Instead, he has given opportunities to underprivileged students through his sheer passion and intelligence despite many setbacks.
HEC has included his plays The Guilt and The Last Metaphor in the MPhil course titled “Pakistani Writings in English (Basic)”.
منڈی بہاوالدین کا ایک اور اعزاز، زاہد اختر زمان چیف سیکرٹری پنجاب تعینات
He is the first Pakistani playwright in the English language and has published six plays that have been acclaimed in Pakistan, England and the United States. Usman Ali is the playwright of more than 16 original plays in English, endorsed by Edward Bond.
He founded the Ali’s Theater in the sub-campus of the University of Sargodha at Mandi Bahauddin, which was later closed by Dr. Ishtiaq, Vice Chancellor, University of Sargodha, along with the university campus in which it was located.
In his theatre, he created several masterpieces and won acclaim from his peers locally and internationally.
His genius compels Claire Chambers, who teaches world literature at the University Of York and is the author of Britain Through Muslim Eyes: Literary Representations, 1780-1988, to travel to this remote region of Punjab and see Usman’s masterpiece. He was surprised and so was he. He compared him with Nadeem Shahid, the founder of the famous Ajoka Theatre.
“Usman Ali, Bard of Mandi Bahauddin and founder of Ali’s Theatre, has an almost cult-like hold over his young students, who respect his insightful teaching and tender creative imagination. However, his turn I am following in the footsteps of young playwright Nadeem, even the former writes in English while Ajoka Activist works in Urdu, Punjabi and Saraiki. For example, Ali has written all his work under Panjab University professor Shaista Sonnu Sirajuddin, who wrote an appreciative introduction to Nadeem’s selected plays, and his play The Last Metaphor, presented at the conference, bears a striking resemblance to Nadeem’s earlier play, The Dead Dog.
“Ali’s Beckettian three-act play The Last Metaphor features two men (played by Ali and Qaiser Mehmood) alone on stage. Their emotions and fears are expressed in a strange, disjointed dialogue between frivolous arguments. The drama has a haunting, hallucinogenic quality, reinforced by the repeated dripping sound effect that seems to evoke the agony of sugar water. In this claustrophobic, absurd world come some of the most surreal stories of police brutality. The audience is shown a very masculine world of violence and lynching reminiscent of the 2010 Sialkot case.
“It is juxtaposed with the touching male friendship of both the protagonist and the dog and his ex-partner, set against the beauty of a Pakistani winter full of crows, cobras and fireflies. is shown to be a canine in his denunciation. Ali, like Nadeem, shows his interest in rights that transcend the human, even in a situation that is extremely violent,” Clare wrote in her column for Daily Dawn in 2017.
Usman was also selected for a 2018 fall residency with the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa where the university introduced him with these words: “Usman Ali (playwright; Pakistan) researches physical and non-verbal theatre, and founder of Ali. Theater at Mandi Bahauddin Campus of the University of Sargodha.
His English-language plays The Prisoners, The Guilt, The Last Metaphor, The Odyssey, The Breath, and The Flute, forthcoming at the Royal Court Theatre, London. Three runs have been published and performed in Pakistan. In 2014, he received the Taufiq Rafat Prize for Drama. He participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State.
Usman is the first Pakistani to receive a certificate of appreciation from US President Donald Trump. He also directed a dramatic reading of his play at the Theater Department of the University of Iowa and acted with the famous American actor Elijah Jones.
Usman is the first Pakistani playwright who has also conducted a workshop on creative writing at the famous ‘Hugo’s House’ in America. His plays have been performed throughout the United States, and London’s Royal Court Theater has also accepted his plays for UK performances.
Written by Rahil Haneef