Burqavaganza is a play produced by the Ajoka Theater in Pakistan . In the play all cast members wear a Burqa. The burqa is meant to represent the things society tries to hide and spotlights religious fundamentalists’ attitudes.
The play is written and directed by Shahid Nadeem of the Ajoka Theater in Islamabad, Pakistan. Its subtitle is – love in the time of jihad – . The play is meant to be a satire. It ran in 2009 and for a short time in 2010 before being banned in April 2010 on the charge of upsetting and making fun of Islamic values and women who wear the burqa.
The play has added to the pile of controversy surrounding the burqa which has reached a worldwide scale. (See: Freedom of dress) Some women in Pakistan find it difficult to imagine wearing the burqa, and being what they refer to as secluded from the rest of society. For other women in the country, it is a sign of dignity and respect and they say they wear the Burqa freely as a privilege.
Controversy of the play escalated on March 8, 2010, International Women's Day . Pakistan National Council of the Arts, ActionAid and Ajoka were scheduled to perform an approved play for the audience that night. At the last minute, it was announced to the audience that Burqavaganza would be performed instead. Several members of the audience felt that the content was inappropriate and disrepectful of cultural traditions. One member of the audience felt it was a disgraceful play to be shown on International Women’s Day.
Those behind Burqavaganza stand behind the play. They feel that there is no place for the burqa in society today, and that women aren’t something to be ashamed of and hidden away.
Burqavaganza’s use of the burqa in the play is a provacative move that has political implications. Some see the theater production as freedom of expression while others, a more conservative audience, sees it as distasteful to traditions. The play was banned in April 2010 after several protests. The play has come to represent a divide between Pakistani liberals and religious conservatives in the country.