Watch monologues on themes of body-shaming, freedom of sexuality

Oct 11, 2017, 12:39 IST | Krutika Behrawala

Four monologues on the themes of body-shaming, freedom of sexuality and patriarchy will provoke women in the audience to question the gender bias they encounter every day

Dolly Bose walks up to the audience gathered in a living room. She dons the character of a woman who was ridiculed for being too busty when she hit puberty. She performs a monologue, narrating the jibes that came her way from her mother, and how it triggered her to make undesirable life choices. As the monologue reaches its crescendo, she reveals an unexpected twist in the tale, which helps the character reach a new level of self-knowledge.

"The character is unnamed because she could be any of us. She goes through a gamut of emotions and getting into her skin has been challenging but thrilling," says Bose, an ad film actor, who makes her debut on stage with this performance. Titled Booby-Trapped, the edgy monologue is one of the four that comprise a 60-minute performance titled Striptease: The Gender Dialogues.

(From top) Abhishikta Das, Dolly Bose and Lopamudra Mohanty
(From top) Abhishikta Das, Dolly Bose and Lopamudra Mohanty

Break the biases
Written and directed by the multi-faceted theatre personality Zubin Driver, Striptease premiered in July, with the team performing in intimate settings, including a person's living room and community halls. This weekend, they will present their first performance at a public venue. "The production is designed to be mobile and interactive. While the monologues are entertaining, they also provoke and stimulate the audience to respond to questions like 'who really owns your body' and 'are you stripped by patriarchy daily without even knowing it?'" says Driver, who has engaged with gender equality in his work for over a decade, having penned several street plays on the subject.

Along with Bose, the cast also features Abhishikta Das and Lopamudra Mohanty. Das performs Wings, a monologue about a woman who breaks loose from patriarchy and sexual objectification. Meanwhile, Mohanty performs the title piece Striptease, where she plays a seductive woman, drawing the audience into a discussion about the female body, forcing them to participate in her 'stripping' of bias and prejudice. She also performs Devi, a monologue that explores the life of a homemaker, who is possessed by a goddess.

Watch and discuss
After the performance, the team engages in a discussion with the audience, inviting women to share personal stories on gender bias they face on a daily basis. "Each person in the audience connects with at least one of the monologues," says Driver, citing an instance of a homemaker, who was moved after watching Devi. "She said that she felt undervalued and ignored by her family, especially her husband."

At another performance, some guests discussed the complexities of freedom of choice when it came to their sexuality. Driver adds, "The performance also provokes the audience to question how they've internalised patriarchal structures, like giving up your career to bring up your child because it's assumed that a woman needs to do the parenting, even as the husband continues to work. Many women shared how in hindsight, they regretted leaving their jobs, as it became tougher to get back to their careers. The idea is to offer a safe space to encourage a dialogue on subjects that are often brushed under the carpet."

ON: October 14, 7 pm to 8.30 pm
AT: The Cuckoo Club, Macronells Compound, Pali Hill, Bandra West.
ENTRY: Rs 450

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