Since 1981,Tehrik-e-Niswan has been presenting plays under its Mobile Theatre Programme, in middle class and low -income areas of Karachi. This is Theatre for community development specially women’s development. A team of performers travels with plays to different low-income areas and Kachi-abadis at the request of various Non Government Organisations (NGOs) working specifically in those localities.
These short duration performances (30 to 50 minutes) are held free of cost, and are often based around real life issues drawn from the lives of people of these localities. The productions are devised to remain simple so that they may be performed conveniently in small spaces at short notice. Apart from presenting entertainment value, a strong emphasis is placed on the script writing and design aspect of each production. The audience of the mobile plays in these low-income areas is predominantly female, and the work force here comprises of industrial workers or people doing small jobs in various service sectors.
Since 1997 Tehrik-e-Niswan has reviewed its Mobile Theatre policy by focusing on a limited number of communities, which are visited on a regular basis, rather than a wide range of community visits. This has created a relationship with the audience and inhabitants of the community so that audience participation in discussions has gradually grown to a comfortable level and has allowed the group to assess the impact of its work in a more effective way. All the performances are followed by a post performance discussion between the audience and the cast. In fact, it is this dialogue at the end, which is of prime importance. The plays in Tehrik-e-Niswan’s repertoire focus on the marginalized lives of the women, and question officially prescribed gender roles and a lop-sided moral system.