For the hashtag generation

Step into the world of teenagers and gender identities that get tagged to their worlds, with the play, Keep Calm & #ashtag

Why does Nikhil play an online game in a female avatar? Why does Tanya create an anonymous Facebook profile? Why is it okay for a boy to be violent but for a girl to be adjusting? These and many other questions dealing with teenage gender identities in real and virtual spaces define Keep Calm & #ashtag. Presented by Young People's Theatre Programme, the 50-minute devised performance, for everyone above 14 years of age, will be staged this evening, as part of the NCPA Summer Fiesta.

A still from the play, Keep Calm & #ashtag
A still from the play, Keep Calm & #ashtag 

"There is a lot of talk in the media and in other spaces about gender-based violence. However, we find that there is not much conversation around how gender identities are constructed or created. A lot of gender identity construction happens in the teenage years where we are led to believe how 'boys' and 'girls' should behave. The play takes a look at this process," elaborates Shabari Rao, who has directed the play with Rituparna Bhattacharya.

Without any script at the start, the performance was shaped using ideas, experiences, thoughts and insights about the topic pooled in by the directors. The co-director adds, "The narratives also draw from personal experiences of the actors, which have then been shaped to create the play. We did a lot of research before embarking on the creative process; we interviewed many young people to understand their point of view, too."

Shabari Rao, co-director, Keep Calm & #ashtag
Shabari Rao, co-director, Keep Calm & #ashtag 

Performed by Ajitesh Gupta, Tanvee Ravi, Neha Singh, Vikrant Dhote, the play not only targets teens but also adults. In fact, the first show in Mumbai that was staged on February 13 was meant only for teachers and educators. "Most often, parents complain that they have no idea of what is happening in their teenager's life. This play can give them a glimpse into that world. Through the play, we hope to open up avenues for discussion and questioning between young people themselves and between young people and their teachers/parents. For these conversations to be meaningful and enabling, it is important for the adults involved to also be part of the process," believes Rao.

On: Today, 6.30 pm
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
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