FOR THE last three months, members of Alankar Theatre have been connecting with a group of transgenders to give their theatre production ‘Thiru Nangai’ (meaning third gender), written by Mahendra Bhishm, a contemporary perspective. The story, based on the novel, revolves around a transgender who has been living in a dera for 15 years, and how a chance meeting with her family and attempts to be accepted by them, leads to a tragedy.
“We wanted to add layers to the story, talking of transgenders in society today and their status. All actors decided to research and connect with transgenders to give the script new dimensions,” explains Chakresh Kumar, the director. The idea of staging the play came from the desire to tell the stories of these ‘outsiders’ to a larger audience and dispel superstitions about them.
As part of the process, the actors visited various deras in the city, interacted with transgenders to connect with their life and add elements to the script. Dhananjay, Kritika and Tamanna shared their experiences and stories with the group, and are now an integral part of the production.
The story of the play is set in Rajasthan, and with folk music, costumes, a cast of 30 and a set of two levels charts the journeys of some transgenders. “We are boycotted by our families, have no jobs, are harassed and embarrassed by lewd comments. We are never secure, from the public or the police,” reflects Dhananjay, one of the few transgenders who is pursuing an MA in human rights from Panjab University, and also acting in the play.
Theatre, believe the actors, is a powerful medium to bridge gaps and talk of issues which are ignored. “We went to buy vegetables from the mandi, and a person came up to us and handed Rs 100, as if we were beggars. We want respect, support, jobs, and I think after seeing the play, people will understand many of our issues,” reflects Kritika, a transgender.
While economic independence, adds Tamanna, who works as a make-up artist, has given her wings and courage to lead her own life, many don’t get this chance. The play will be staged at 6.30 pm on December 27 at Tagore Theatre.