Adishakti’s play highlights the social issue of gender harassment and violence
Puducherry’s Adishakti theatre group is known for its powerful message-oriented plays. Adding to the genre, the group is all set to bring its new and first play Bhoomi post-COVID-19, which looks at the spectrum of arguments towards gender harassment and its implications on society, which are not in the public domain.
The plot is set between two main characters — where one is a play director and the other an actor. Following the narrative of a play-within-a-play, the characters find themselves in different phases of their lives — personal and professional. The socially relevant play revolves around their conflicting conversation about gender and violence and how an individual responds to the violence against women as an observer or a third party. “We are looking at the individual responses to gender and harassment and what actions will they take if something wrong happens with a woman. There are two parallel stories woven into this play. The two actors talk about the absence of resolutions even when the situation is demanding it with a sense of urgency,” shares Vinay Kumar, the Artistic Director and Managing Trustee of Adishakti Theatre.
Opening at the annual festival of ‘Adishakti — Remembering Veenapani’ festival, the play is an adaptation of a Malayalam play Bhoomirakshasam by Sara Joseph. Adapted by Vinay, the play heeds a statutory warning of containing bits that can be upsetting or triggering — ‘viewers discretion is advised.
Although the subject of gender equality is much talked about, Vinay feels that physical aggression is something that hasn’t been addressed enough. “We generally don’t address the main issue. For instance, rape is beyond physical aggression and we are uncovering the questions about why such things happen and how they affect the victim or the people around her. This is not a new subject, this has been there for years and it is difficult to say that it is going to change anytime soon,” the actor offers.
With six actors on stage, the 80-minute play is supported with live music by the actors, which Vinay confirms took about a year of preparation (to equip the artistes with music and instruments) and two months of rigorous rehearsals. “Every actor had to learn to play some musical instrument or the other and take singing classes. We all have pushed our limits as creative performers,” reveals the director, who has also donned the role of composer for the
How do you make the transition between actor, director and composer? “I don’t think any creative person would face this challenge. I always try to expand my capabilities and learn new things. The whole point of being an actor is to learn new things and challenge yourself physically and emotionally,” he tells us.
On April 10 at 7 pm.
At Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Arts & Research, Puducherry.