Sarmad Khoosat is one of the most eminent names when it comes to the performing arts in Pakistan.
He has been pushing boundaries and making brilliant art for a while. And now, he has come up with yet another example of his brilliance with his latest performance titled ‘No Time To Sleep’. The performance is in collaboration with Justice Project Pakistan to highlight the cruelty of the death penalty in Pakistan.
The play is a 24-hour performance and started on the 9th of October at 10 PM.
As usual, Sarmad Khoosat has committed to the role fully and is only eating biscuits and drinking chai as is mandated for death row prisoners so that they don’t get sick.
There is an entire audience for the performance and people shift out after 1 hour, where a new batch of people come in. People have been talking about the play for a while and the performance by Sarmad Khoosat was heavily awaited.
To prepare for his role, Sarmad spent time with prisoners who are actually on death row and are awaiting their executions while their families and lawyers tirelessly work on requests for pardons and appeals.
For the performance, Sarmad Khoosat has transformed into Prisoner Z, a man on death row. Prisoner Z is based on Zulfiqar Ali Khan, who was the first client for Justice Project Pakistan. His execution was scheduled and because of stay orders, delayed over 20 times.
He was given the death sentence because he shot two robbers to death in self-defence when they tried to rob him and his brother just outside of Islamabad. While Zulfiqar acted in self-defence, he was convicted and given the death penalty.
He was incredibly intelligent and gained several degrees while he was in prison including several masters level certifications. He also taught 400 inmates as well, helping them become qualified too and was overall considered a positive influence in the prison. His death penalty was still not removed.
The entire performance calls to raise awareness about conditions death row prisoners are put through.
As well as how many people are sentenced to death because of unfair trials and because they can’t afford good legal representation. Pakistan introduced a moratorium on executions in 2008 and until 2014, only 1 execution took place. However, after the APS attack in 2014, capital punishment was reintroduced and those sentenced to death once again became unsure of when they would be executed. And such is the fate of Prisoner Z as well.
There is a timeline present on Dawn’s website which is constantly updated with the events happening to Prisoner Z in his last hours alive. With his last meals, his family visits and more being depicted.
The entire performance is incredibly heart wrenching, and as the hour of execution gets nearer, it gets more and more depressing.
The performance is incredibly complex and realistic and considering it is based on a real story, it is even more heart wrenching than you would expect.
The entire play is being live streamed on YouTube.
Cover Image Source: Dawn.com