The horrific gang-rape incident in Delhi on December 16, 2012, sent shock waves through the country. Reams of newsprint, hours of TV footage and anguished reactions filled our psyche. But like all things in the news no matter how shocking the impact had begun to wear.
At such a time, a new play, Nirbhaya staged in India for the first time this week (on March 17), at the Tata Theatre, NCPA has an effect akin to reminding
one of an old, deep wound.
The play premiered in London in June 2013 and has already won awards, such as the 2013 Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Directed by New Yorkbased playwright Yael Farber, Nirbhaya takes a testimonial approach rather than re-enacting the Delhi incident in detail. So, you have five
women on stage, recounting and enacting their personal stories of sexual abuse.
Farber says, "This play was one of the most challenging creative processes of my career and one of the most inspiring ones. I had to understand the systemic way in which patriarchy manifests itself here (in India), and had to gather information that described the events of December 16 and what followed."
Actor and producer of the play, Poorna Jagannathan, says, "Sexual violence has spread like an epidemic in India. I faced acts of sexual violence at various points in my life. But after the Delhi rape case, I gathered the courage to share my storywith the world."
Talking about the reactions to the play in the UK, Jagannathan says, "The response was tremendous. Everyone connects with the idea of sexual violence. So, the audiences related with the idea on seeing the truth on stage. It isvery rare that a play mutes people, and Nirbhaya manages to do that."
Nirbhaya was staged in Mumbai then will head to Delhi and Bengaluru.