Using theatre to create social awareness

Changing Society

In Delhi, no one needs to be told about the condition of working women, non-working women and those out late at night. No time can be regarded as safe for women in the City even though the chauvinist society wants women inside homes by eight pm.

There can be a million attempts like slutwalk, protests and so on but Delhi doesn’t seem to change, with rape and molestation cases going up.

In an attempt to change people’s mindsets about rape and molestation, Becoming I Foundation in collaboration with Expressions theater group staged Dafa Teen Sau Chihattar, based on Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code that addresses the issue of rape and women security. The chief guest for the event was Harsh Mander, a social activist. He is presently the convener Aman Biradari, a people’s campaign for secularism, peace and justice, works for Nyayagrah, for legal justice and reconciliation for the survivors of the Gujarat 2002 carnage, and Dil Se, for the rights of homeless children and women.

The play began with a law professor teaching his students Dafa Teen Sau Chihattar. He uses two parallel running stories – the age-old fable of Little Red Riding Hood and the story of a 21st century woman – to make us understand the position of women then and now and how nothing has really changed. While Red Riding Hood proceeds as it does, the modern girl is a part of an NGO which helps displaced women. Riya visits one such home where women narrated their terrible life stories. All of these stories were based on real-life incidents like the Karuna Devi Rape Case, Delhi girl’s gangrape by men who promised to make her an air hostess, Imrana rape case and so on. 

Affected by all this, Riya attends a news debate where she voices her concerns and solutions for rape boldly. However, at the end of the play, she herself is molested and her criminals are let off easily. 

Similarly, at the end of Little Red Riding Hood, the man who came to save the little girl is persuaded by the wolf that it was the girl’s fault that she came into the forest and went deeper inside so he had all the right to eat her up. Red Riding Hood of the fables and Riya of 21st Century, both receive a fatal end because ‘they were at fault’.

Sidharth Madan, director of the play, likes to touch upon contemporary issues such as rape, corruption and terrorism which are making headlines at the moment. “People wanted to hear and know about it. I did a lot of research on this and then made this play on one of the (constitutional) provisions that promises protection to women,” he says. 

His theatre group Expressions has been actively taking up social issues and has had another huge production like this on terrorism called Face behind the Mask. This is their second collaboration with the Becoming I Foundation. The first one had a play on corruption called Yuvrang. Becoming I Foundation is an internationally recognised youth led organisation that aims to bring young people face to face with community development projects. 

Their project Broadway gets together theater groups and music and dance societies to create a platform for young people to perform what they are best at. These events are fund raisers that directly support their projects on the ground.

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