So there I stood in a long cue which grew quite serpentine by seconds and comprised of very well dressed nouveau rich, old money and sedan, clumsy looking teenagers with chewing gummy careless charcoaled looks..but women. I was so happy to see women's willingness to come out of cupboard and hushed up lives and really search for an identity.
The play started after a long dedicated introduction and daring announcement by a 'cool' lady that the play was all about 'How, a rather well meaning person ,in the distant land of America ,had once had an inspirational thought that to eradicate all crimes against women and to safeguard womanhood she needed to educate the world about 'Vagina'! I was really concentrating hard to fathom the depth of the play's intense theme,when, just before the lights dimmed I witnessed a great rush of a huge number of people rapidly filling up the hall. To my utter surprise I found the audience in the auditorium was now at a ratio of 40:60 women to men.
The play was in a format of a string of interviews of women belonging to every status and every group expressing their feelings about what was 'down there'. The whole enactment was duly interspersed with songs belted out by a live band. To give the performers of the band their due credit, they really performed all the songs with themes of womanhood ,rather well and earned many rounds of applause.
But the theme of 'Down there' was what I will talk about now. When the whole audience sat in rapt silence,while revelation after shocking revelation hit us about 'menstrual blood being beautiful', 'down there being hair raising (ahem) and how men treated women only as 'down there' and how women did not know about their orgasmic 'down there', I could only sit and groan. Hats off to the theater group of St. Xavier's College and range of really talented performers who had finally once and for all had revealed the mysteries of womanhood. Each statement of revelation was greeted with sometimes polite claps and sometimes loud applause.
So why did I feel so miserable? Why I felt so humiliated and violated each time I heard the claps? So why am I really writing this post?
You see, I have always enjoyed my womanhood and have always maintained that if God had ever given me a choice in choosing my own gender, I would definitely have chosen to be a woman.The right to remain a woman with my vanity and dignity intact is a choice I exercise. A voice of awareness and a voice of protest need not always mean that you need to de-robe a woman or her personal assets and try to tell everyone how they have the privilege to walk and talk naked if they want to, about women. The play could have been more potent in spreading it's message if the script had kept the dignity alive. I know all the branding gurus will say that I am contributing much in spreading the good word about a play, but to me the harsh, sometimes uncouth dialogues and the penchant to talk more about 'sex' and not zero in to the problems in accepting a woman's role in today's world , was what had kept the play from creating an impact in the audience. I am sure the play would continue attracting people with such a title display but 50% of the same audience will also go back to watching 'Khuli Khirki' or something like that to arouse their desire.
It is said that the playwright was so possessive about her script that she would never allow anyone to re-edit it again, even if they wanted to customize it according to their country and culture. Hence the dialogues sometimes convey an undertone of a culture which is very different from us.
It was a difficult play to direct. Due credit goes to Suprovo Thakur and all the cast and crew of this production by Shriek of Silence. I just
wish the voice against gender abuse could be raised without a public abuse of the essence of the womanhood.
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