Speak up

Updated: Aug 16, 2019, 08:29 IST | Karishma Kuenzang

An adaptation of Ntozake Shange's choreopoems will see seven women tell personal stories of sexual abuse, gender inequality, partition, caregiving, racism and depression this weekend

Speak up
Natasha and Nisha

Theatre practitioner Sujatha Balakrishnan is a firm believer that art forms must go beyond entertainment to include social criticism and political activism. So in 2015, she started Theatre for Change in Bengaluru to address social issues in a theatrical format. Four years hence, she is ready with an all-women act where performers will tackle issues they face via monologues.

Chinua Achebe wrote, "Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will glorify the hunter." And that's the theory on which the Mumbai edition of the play is based. "One-sided stories are dangerous, for they ensure that the dominant notions prevail. Counter stories give an insight into the reality of the situation, which is what we are offering with this edition. We asked those who came for the auditions to tell us their experiences, and now they will be sharing them," Balakrishnan shares. As it's difficult to sustain the audience's interest with just monologues, they have interspersed it with poetry, music and movement.

(From left) Parvati Ramchandran, Nisha Gulati, Monica Mahendru and Natasha Advani Thangkhiew
(From left) Parvati Ramchandran, Nisha Gulati, Monica Mahendru and Natasha Advani Thangkhiew

Vandana Pagaria Dugar will talk about sexual abuse and marital issues, starting with how many girls are subjected to it at an age when they don't even know about sex. "Born into a conservative Marwari family wherein some topics are stigmatised, she will talk about how when she was a little girl, a man stood behind her with an erection, and she didn't even understand what was happening but knew something was wrong, though she didn't have the guts to speak up," Balakrishnan tells us.

Monica Mahendru will talk about living with parents in her 40s, and how when it comes to the emotional aspect of caregiving, it's still always the daughter who's expected to be around. And then, there's the pressure and stigma that comes with being a single woman in her 40s.

Sujatha Balakrishnan
Sujatha Balakrishnan

Tackling the theme of life after Partition is Karachi-born Naila Ibrahim, who will talk about the draconian visa policies between India and Pakistan, while US-raised Nisha Gulati will touch upon racism. One topic everyone will relate to, though, will be Natasha Advani Thangkhiew's monologue about women pressurising themselves and succumbing to their internal battles.

On August 17, 6.30 pm, 8.15 pm
At Jeff Goldberg Studio, Links Building, fourth floor, Khar West.
Log on to bookymyshow.com
Cost Rs 250

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