Ishq: love, music and independence

Ishq rehearsals. Credit: Lidia Crisafulli

Ishq rehearsals. Credit: Lidia Crisafulli - Credit: Archant

A Pakistani-Sufi-Anglo musical opens at Sadler’s Wells to celebrate 70 years of Pakistan’s independence

Ishq rehearsals. Credit: Lidia Crisafulli

Ishq rehearsals. Credit: Lidia Crisafulli - Credit: Archant

A new musical will run at Sadler’s Wells to celebrate 70 years of Pakistan’s independence. Ishq, directed by Farooq Beg for award-winning Pakistani production company Serendip, is based on the 600-year-old story of two lovers and their feuding families.

Beg says: “There hasn’t been a better time to stage Ishq than this year – because of the anniversary of Pakistani independence, but also because the issues that are raised in Ishq are pertinent to the social problems that threaten our society, especially for women who still face discrimination.”

Indeed, Heer Ranjha, the heroine of Ishq, pursues her love despite being limited by a staunchly patriarchal society – so putting the empowerment of women centre stage seemed like a natural choice. “The musical takes up the issues of emancipation through the story of one woman who shook society to its roots – but it also takes up the representation of women in Islam and the great honour, respect and rights that should be accorded to women but are in fact abused in the name of religion.”

Beyond the powerful look Ishq casts on Pakistani society, it is also a unique spectacle that fuses sounds and choreography from Pakistan and the UK, using both classical and modern dance, poetry and fusion music.

Ishq rehearsals. Credit: Lidia Crisafulli

Ishq rehearsals. Credit: Lidia Crisafulli - Credit: Archant

This vision of a diverse meeting of Eastern and Western talent resulted in an extremely diverse crew, which Beg is particularly proud of:

“When I watched the run through of the first act, I was almost teary. It was such an emotional moment for me to see a dream harboured for almost a quarter of a century come alive.”

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Directing Ishq has been a moving experience, says Beg: “People of so many faiths, cultures and colour all acting as one – this was diversity and integration in action. It was more emotive as I saw them work differences out, put aside their egos and become a team. We need a peaceful multicultural nation like the one I witnessed on stage.”

Ishq is on at Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, EC1R, 7-9 September, tickets £20 - £125

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