Madeeha Gauhar (1956-2018)

The Prince Claus Fund was saddened to hear of the passing of Madeeha Gauhar, Prince Claus Laureate in 2006.

An actor, theatre director and women’s rights activist, Madeeha Gauhar received a Prince Claus Award for her pioneering work in socially concerned theatre arts in south Asia. In 1984 she founded Ajoka Theatre in Pakistan with the aim of promoting a secular, humane, just and egalitarian society. Ajoka’s first play was performed outdoors in Lahore in defiance of strict censorship laws. Undeterred by arrests and bans, Gauhar continued her work, staging socially and politically relevant quality theatre on stage and on the streets, in remote areas as well as cities and in vernacular languages. Ajoka works mainly with young people and organises training and technical workshops including script development for actors, theatre workers and community activists – an important role in a country with few educational facilities for theatre. The troupe challenges political frontiers, giving cross-border performances with actors in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri-Lanka. Ajoka also has a children’s theatre and has participated in numerous international drama festivals in Asia and Europe.

Madeeha Gauhar inspired new generations of theatre practitioners as well as social and political activists throughout the region. She will be sorely missed.

This film is part of the Pakistan Calling film project from The Samosa in partnership with the RSA. Find out more at: