Theatre group fights against gender stereotypes

The December 16 rape case has provoked and inspired many to come out and speak about violence against women. And now, theatre artist Anish Singh is trying to bring together the youth to act against their gender stereotypes.

“Even a three-year-old knows about his gender and its role in the society. Gender is not something which we learn from a certain age. We are taught and fed about gender from the time we are born,” expounds Singh.

Fighting gender stereotypes with children will uproot the evil. This is the idea of Singh’s cause.

“Elders have a habit of reaching the end point by telling their juniors what is right and wrong. This makes a child skip his journey, where he misses out on his learning and choices. They begin to speak the language of their parents, teachers, Prime Minister, the President of United States and so many others, that the process of formation of personal opinions is already off-coursed,” says Singh.

When he was in National School of Drama, he was not allowed to have his own production group, but he managed to gather together a group informally and performed in various places, including India Habitat Centre and India International Centre. Founded in 2003, Singh named his group Role Play Productions (RPP), just last year.

“Systematic education cannot teach us everything. Only through exposure does one learn how to make choices in life. When we learn from our experiences, we tend to retain more of it,” he explains.
A new branch of RPP - My Role - aged 13 to 22 comes in to discuss their stories relating to gender stereotyping.
“We debate and discuss experiences in our sessions, together we try to expand the knowledge we gather from day to day experiences. It is an initiative to let the youth open up and express themselves. Sometimes, even without an audience, a person should
be strong enough to have
his own opinion,”
Singh adds confidently.
“We capture incidents and experiences from our own life and enact it. We try to bring them closer to think how being of a ‘certain gender’, a person gets bounded to a ‘certain social construct,’ where we might be rejected, if we do not fulfil our ‘roles’ of that particular gender.
According to Singh, through theatre, one immediately gets attached to the society, a three-year-old picks up the role of his parents, teachers, friends, drivers, maids or anyone they meet. It is very easy to learn through theatre.
The platform is open to all those who want to learn theatre and get exposed to anything beyond their daily curriculum. My Role invites people from all walks of life to participate in the workshops.
Divided into various levels, the workshops plan to develop leaders who can go back to their community, schools and colleges to impart the same education that they have learnt from here.
“I was in class 9 when I met Ravi Gulati from NGO Manzil. The school I was studying in was a reputed government school but there was hardly anything I learnt practically. I joined Manzil for the purpose of learning English, Computer Applications and Mathematics, but I learnt more about life and society. I learnt filmmaking, theatre and also how to interact with people outside my own social circle,”
he recapitulates.
“I went beyond school level knowledge to explore something of my own. It was the most profound experience,” adds Singh.

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