How unfeminine of you!

Sep 18, 2011, 01:13 IST | Dhamini Ratnam

This week, two plays -- one recent, another old -- question our assumptions of how being feminine means you don't fart, smell bad, or expect a break from moaning kids after a hard day's work

This week, two plays -- one recent, another old -- question our assumptions of how being feminine means you don't fart, smell bad, or expect a break from moaning kids after a hard day's work

This week, Mumbai gets a dose of some old school feminism, and we don't mean the 'post feminism' variety, where the new epitome of women's liberation lies in 'choosing' to be thin. On Sunday, Lillete Dubey's Primetime Theatre company will showcase their first Hindi production, the power-packed Adhe Adhure (Halfway House) written by noted Hindi author and playwright Mohan Rakesh in 1959.

New York-based improv comedian Radhika Vaz at Bengaluru last week.
She will perform in Mumbai on Wednesday pic/Ramesh HS

Dubey will play Savitri, one of Rakesh's most contentious characters, who continues to polarise audiences to date. The sole breadwinner of her family, Savitri is depicted as the mother of three grown up, rebellious children, who has had an extra-marital relationship, but continues to live with her family.

Her character makes the audience come up against its deep-seated assumptions of femininity, and examine the dubious morality that underpins its assumptions that a good woman is a dutiful wife and an uncomplaining mother.

"I chose it because it is an excellent piece of theatre. Audience members have approached us and said that they relate to the story. At the end of the day, it's a family drama, and people get it," said Dubey, who will perform the play in Mumbai on Sunday, after showing it in Bengaluru, Guwahati and Ludhiana, among other cities. Veteran Marathi stage artist Mohan Agashe, will play Savitri's husband.

On Wednesday, New York based improvisational and sketch artist Radhika Vaz will perform a one-woman show, Unladylike: The Pitfalls of Propriety, where, through the character of "a prim and proper woman who sips tea and never uses vulgar language", Vaz hopes to systematically debunk notions of femininity. "Ladylike behaviour is a set of rules made up for women to gain acceptance. And while every generation challenges the script written for women, we still need to constantly question what it means to be feminine," says Vaz.

For instance, points out Vaz, it is most unladylike for women to smell bad, or worse, be flatulent, or have body hair. Vaz's prim on-stage character talks about these 'terrible behaviours' in eight monologues. Vaz, who has performed her piece 24 times in New York says, "My piece is about stereotypes that women have to conform to, which is the same, world over. My point is simple --  you can think whatever you want about women, that they are beautiful creatures that take care of their men and actually, want to do that -- but at the end of the day, that's not true. We fart, we grow old, and we're entitled to script our own roles."

At: Catch Adhe Adhure at Prithvi on Sunday, 6 pm & 9 pm, and Unladylike: The Pitfalls of Propriety at
NCPA Experimental Theatre on Wednesday, 7.30 pm
Call: 26149546 (Prithvi), 22824567 (NCPA)

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