LAHORE: The Punjab government’s policy towards theatre timings has dealt “a serious blow” to the commercial theatre, resulting in a loss of millions of rupees since the new timings were enforced in November 2008, artists and theatre producers have said.

Bound: The Home Department’s notifications and the Dramatic Performances Act 1876 contain no clause that could force theatres to close at 11pm. The Punjab government, however, has bound the theatres to close at 11pm, while the cinemas remain open until 12:30am. The artists and commercial theatre producers termed it a “discriminatory policy” and said it had deprived many artists from earning their bread. According to the policy, the government changed the timings to stop vulgarity. Producers said, “The government told us that it has reviewed the old timings due to law and order situation.”

On the other hand, they said, cinemas were allowed to run shows until 12:30 am.

A Home Department notification said, “The district coordination officers will be held responsible for monitoring of dramatic performances within their respective districts. They will also monitor vulgar/obscene stage performances. In case of any violation they will report to the Home Department.”

Another notification said the Censor Rehearsal Panel “shall watch, formulate and sign the Full Dress Censor Rehearsal jointly”. According to the notification, only “situational musical items” were allowed in theatres, if approved by the panel and were not obscene, vulgar or provocative.

Review timings: Commercial Producers Association Chairman Chaudhry Zulfiqar said they were against vulgarity, adding the government should ban dances if it was against them. He said, “We demand that the government review the timings. The government should save the theatre from collapse. Punjab is the place where maximum number of dramas is staged across the world. We are against vulgarity, so the government should promote clean theatre,” he said. Afshar Rahi, a daily-wage artist, said, “I have to go back home without work, as the new timings have affected the production work.”

Home Department Secretary Nadeem Hassan Asif said the timings were implemented through an executive order. He said cinema timings were the federal government’s issue. He did not agree with the point that the timings were affecting the theatre producers. He said theatres were closed early across the world.
Sorce: Daily Times