Lahore, with its wonderfully rich cultural history spanning the last 2000 years, is a singularly fitting venue for the 4th International Theatre & Dance Festival & 3rd Sufi Soul World Music Festival Pakistan 2002. This will be the 13th International Festival being hosted by the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, with another four Festivals being planned for the next three years.

It is this sense of vision that Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop has endeavored to nurture over the previous 12 Festivals. Not only has local participation remained enthusiastic and committed to the cause of performing arts in the country, but also international participation has given the Festival is not to provide mere entertainment, rather the spirit of the Festival seeks to develop the aesthetic inclination of theatre goers and educate them to a better class of theatre. Perhaps most importantly for Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, it is the desire to reincarnate our diverse cultural and artistic heritage that has been the driving force behind the last 10 festivals. We have a long and especially rich tradition of performing arts, be it theatre or music or puppetry, and it is for us to recreate our cultural niche in the world.

Therefore our approach is quite open for selecting shows for our festival. We like all kinds and forms and styles of theatre, dance & music from traditional to contemporary. The Pakistan Theatre, Dance & Music Festival is considered to be an important festival in South East Asia with its venue set in the historic city of Lahore. It has served as a good meeting point for Eastern and Western artists and theatre companies.

Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop is a non government organization, named after the father of modern drama in the subcontinent and is one of the oldest independent theatre companies of Pakistan, it was founded in 1974. Starting with puppet shows, children’s art festivals, drama programmes and numerous theatre productions, the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop became the only group in Pakistan producing major art festivals by the 1990s. No organization in Pakistan, government or private has ever staged an International Art Festival except the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop. In the face of unimaginable obstacles despite the worst recession for decades Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop has successfully presented 10 major international festivals : the 1st International Puppet Festival Pakistan 1992, the 2nd International Puppet Festival Pakistan 1994, the National Dance Festival 1995, the 1st International Drama Festival Pakistan 1996, the 3rd International Puppet Festival Pakistan 1996, the 2nd International Theatre & Dance Festival Pakistan 1997, the 4th International Puppet Festival Pakistan 1998, the 3rd International Theatre & Dance Festival Pakistan 1999, the 1st Sufi Soul World Music Festival Pakistan 2000, 5th International Puppet Festival Pakistan 2000 and the 2nd Sufi Soul World Music Festival 2001.

Alhamra Cultural Complex, a magnificent building located in the heart of new Lahore, is the perfect place to have a festival of this nature. It was designed by famous Nayyar Ali Dada, an internationally acclaimed architect. It has 2 covered theatres of 150 and 375 seating capacities and an open air theatre with around 4000 capacity. During the festival the sprawling lawns around the site accommodate special marquee theatres which have many other performances. The festival is planned for about 20,000 audience for each of the 11 days, complete with car parking facilities.

The festival offers many types of facilities for performances; choices are given with specific performance needs. All the camp theatres are fully equipped with lights, sound, black masking etc., and special arrangements are made for the specific needs of each performance. The Festival provides local technical help in lights, sound and sets which cannot be transported from foreign countries.

At the time of creation of Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop in 1974 the aims and objectives were evolved after careful consideration. It was clearly established that workshop would serve the community and society through the means of performing arts and provide meaningful entertainment by using the potential of performing arts to its fullest and to achieve its declared objectives through direct mass communication.

  • To stand up for freedom of speech.
  • To educate, entertain and bring about awareness of issues that concern our society i.e education, drug abuse, civic sense etc.
  • To motivate and help other national groups by holding workshops and seminars to develop the performing arts keeping our own traditions as the foundation.
  • To develop special programs and educational packages for schools. Develop work with children with educational objectives, hold workshops for school teachers to learn simple manipulation of puppet as a tool for the education of small children.
  • Preservation of folk puppets and folk theatre forms; providing opportunities for creative work for folk artists.
    Continue to develop and implement professional training programs for puppeteers all over Pakistan through festivals and workshops.
  • Developing opportunities for foreign groups to visit Pakistan for development work on puppets in Pakistan, research publications and teaching for children.
The festival covers all hospitality costs which includes meals, hotel stay, local transportation and site seeing tours to historic places of Lahore. The festival also provides free entry tickets to all the performances. The Festival is willing to support groups in finding sponsorship from their governments. Such support will be given to the groups who send us complete information and are processed by the Festival jury. A video tape is essential for the selection.

The festival offers lunch and dinner at site, mainly so that groups can meet in a congenial environment, under a specially designed exotic Pakistani marquee and cuisine is prepared by the festival caterers, who specialize in providing tasty and hygienic food. More than 13000 meals are expected to be served in 11 days. Evenings have a special significance, when all the artists get together and dance to the live Pakistani music. This is one of the most exciting and memorable experiences of the festival. There are several occasions when fellow Pakistani artists are invited to meet the delegates and exchange ideas, philosophies, aspirations … Hearts and minds.

All entries must reach the Festival Secretariat by 1st January 2002. Please send also a brief description of the performance. The Festival would like to receive pictures, slides and a video tape with the text, posters, press kits and technical form, with 2 passport size photographs of the participants for official use.