Appropriating Shakespeare through the Visual and Performative in Pakistani Theatres


  • Zakia Resshid Ehsen University of the Punjab


Appropriation, Shakespeare plays, Postdramatic theory, Pakistani Theatre, Visual and Performative, Experimentation.



This research delves into the appropriation of Shakespearean drama in contemporary Pakistani theatrical performances, using it as an experimental tool to explore dramaturgical and aesthetic elements in the presentation of Shakespeare's plays. Notable productions, including NAPA's Hamlet (2016) and Here Lies A Noble Man (2015), as well as Theatre Wallay's The Comedy of Errors (2014), serve as case studies for examining how Pakistani contemporary theatre, guided by Hens Theis Lehmann's postdramatic (1999) theoretical framework, incorporates performative and visual elements to appropriate Shakespeare's works. This study investigates various modes of appropriation, including the reinterpretation of themes, the recontextualization of original settings, and the use of symbols and language in live performances. It also delves into the repurposing of existing text from Shakespeare's plays, where the stage’s setting, lighting, or imagery are altered to convey new meanings or messages. Simultaneously, these theatrical productions in Pakistan that incorporate visual and performative elements to appropriate Shakespeare's plays are subjected to critical analysis through the framework of Lehmann's postdramatic theatrical concepts, including the reversal of roles, irruption, presentness, and fragmentation of the plot. This analysis illustrates how the performing arts in Pakistan transcend established conventions, giving rise to a fusion of aesthetic forms. Additionally, this research underscores how appropriation, viewed through a postdramatic lens, dismantles the textual originality in conventional Shakespearean performances. Beyond showcasing the evolution of Pakistan's stagecraft and performing arts, this study also serves as a platform for Pakistan's active engagement in Shakespearean studies through the innovative lens of appropriation.