Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

A play on sexual violence will take you into a discomfort zone

play-main A still from the play It’s Cold in Here
Written by Dipanita Nath | New Delhi | Posted: August 7, 2014 12:12 am | Updated: August 7, 2014 1:49 pm

In his past theatre productions, Delhi-based director Deepan Sivaraman has made audiences sit under the naked glare of light bulbs in a lawn enclosed by electric wires (Ubu Roi) and on stage, within eyeball contact with the actors (Peer Gynt). This time around, with It’s Cold in Here, he isn’t offering the audiences a seat at all. He gives us his reasons in an interview:

Rape and Marquez

I was thinking of a play to comment on the recent incidents of sexual violence, rape and abductions. I had read the text of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother many years ago. With It’s Cold in Here, I am not trying to narrate Marquez’s story. I present the play in two layers — one is of a woman who has been raped and her body is kept in a morgue, where the play takes place, and the other is about Erendira’s life. The body of the dead woman is being cleaned and prepared for burial, while Erendira comes in and tells the audience how her grandmother would sell her to as many as 70 men every day, all because she had accidentally burnt down the latter’s house.

Talking Point

All the major characters of Marquez’s story appear in the play but they don’t talk to one another. They speak only to the audience and share their position through monologues. The first monologue is by the dead woman on the morgue and has been taken from the Vagina Monologues (an iconic play on feminine sexual experience). She is lying there with her intestine — we have used real animal entrails — lying on the table and she wants to get out and tell us her version.

Close Up

The play is being held in a white space that looks like a morgue, with shower curtains and a body on the table. The audience comes into the performance area and there are no chairs. The audience is very inside the play, they have to negotiate the space with the performers.  The idea is that, instead of giving a narrative to the audience, to give them an experience. You have to feel the pain . One scene has a procession of pregnant women who open their stomachs and give out embryos to the audience. All the while, the animal intestine are smelling and giving the play a raw feel.

On the Edge

I don’t want an audience that sits comfortably while the performer tries to reach out. They have to feel the discomfort of the moment as much as the performer. Theatre isn’t for entertainment, it makes provocative political points so I want to take the audience into the fabric of the place where it is taking place and challenge them.

The play will be staged at Ambedkar University Studio till August 8. Time: 6.30 pm.
Entry: Free. Contact: 9999066218

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