Pakistan Institute of Development Economics


Theater as a Creative Industry

Date : Thursday, January 13, 2022 at 02:00 PM PST
Moderator: Dr. Nadeem Ul Haque, Vice Chancellor, PIDE
Panelists : Sheharyar Hussain, President, Dramaline, LUMS University, Lahore
Saad Sheikh, Cofounder and CEO, The Colony, Lahore
Safeer Ullah Khan, Cofounder and Director/Trainer, Theatre Wallay, Islamabad
Mehdi Maloof, Indie Singer, Musician, and Songwriter, Civil Servant
Zahra Paracha, Guitarist, Music Producer, Sound Engineer, Cofounder and Director, Lahore Music Meet
Shane Anthony, Drummer, Kashmir, 1st place: Pepsi Battle of the Bands S02
Sana Riaz, Singer and Music Instructor, Gold Medalist, All Pak Music Conference 2001
Aizaz Sohail, Singer and Musician
Natasha Humera Ejaz

Theater is a multi million dollar industry the world over, with artists selling out arenas on a regular basis – events that hundreds of thousands attend to let loose, share a laugh, and just have a good time. This webinar aims to initiate a discussion on the potential of theater as a driver of joy, shaper of culture, and catalyst for socioeconomic prosperity – and to debunk myths surrounding the topic, including the notion that those who engage are fools, misfits, heretics, incompetents, etc. Theater has historically served crucial purposes, including as a tool for challenging the status quo, for bringing definition to societal values and norms, and for creating a platform upon which a variety of arts – including comedy, music, film, and storytelling – can all come together to captivate audiences that can forget about their troubles for a while. How can Pakistan facilitate its theater performers, especially in a time of disruptive digital media technologies that are reshaping the landscape?


  • Introductions and background: what/who inspired you to take up theater as a career?
  • What is the state of Pakistan’s theater industry, and how has it changed over the years?
  • What venues are available to artists, and what does the process for setting up a show look like?
  • Street theater: what are the struggles of performing in public spaces? Is the culture/infrastructure of our urban landscapes conducive for it? How can they be improved to facilitate artists?
  • Audiences: how have the tastes and preferences for different kinds of theater evolved in Pakistan?
    • Culture: as a society, do we enjoy theater? How can it be cultivated among the youth, and how can our education system be rethought to encourage kids to engage from a young age?
    • Are certain kinds of ideas too controversial – how can that restrictive environment be changed? Are any venues sticking their necks out for writers?
  • Emerging performers: what are the struggles and pitfalls faced by those entering the fray?
    • What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a full time writer?
    • Facilitation: do we have courses or workshops for various kinds of writing? If not, why? If so, where can they be found? Are they affordable to most?
    • Universities: do student societies at universities serve to identify talent, developing it and granting it exposure to the industry? What does this process look like? (Dramaline – LUMS)
  • Opportunities: what are some of the avenues available to artists for gaining exposure?
    • What are some of the salient revenue streams available to performers – how have new media technologies reshaped the landscape? Streaming services, crowdfunding, foreign aid?
    • How has COVID-19 disrupted the industry?
  • How can a sustainable business model for artists be conceived?
  • How can performers be facilitated by government agencies and think tanks like PIDE?