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Sex-violence reaching epidemic levels globally: 'Nirbhaya' play director

Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 11:31am IST | Place: Ahmedabad, Mumbai | Agency: PTI
Theatre can play an important role in helping women speak up against sex violence, which has now reached epidemic levels globally, says acclaimed playwright and director Yael Farber whose award-winning play 'Nirbhaya' makes its India premiere.

Theatre can play an important role in helping women speak up against sex violence, which has now reached epidemic levels globally, says acclaimed playwright and director Yael Farber whose award-winning play 'Nirbhaya' makes its India premiere.

"Sex violence has reached epidemic levels universally and the more we can get people to talk about the issue, it is better. Theatre can play a role in initiating dialogue and help women raise their voices and break the silence," Farber told PTI in an interview.

The South African-origin director, who now lives in Montreal is bringing the play "Nirbhaya-Breaking the Silence" based on the December 16 bus gangrape incident in 2012 to the country.
It will be staged in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore between March 17 to March 28.

The seven-member cast stars five women, including "Delhi Belly" actress Poorna Jagannathan, TV actor Priyanka Bose, celebrity hairstylist Sapna Bhavnani and acid attack survivor Sneha Jawale, who narrate their personal experiences on sexual and gender based violence.

"These testimonies include dowry bride burning, child abuse, marital rape, gang rape - as well as the daily iniquities of sexual harassment on public transport and in the streets of urban India," says the director. 

Farber weaves Nirbhaya's story within the five personal stories. The remaining two performers, Japjit Kaur and Ankur Vikal evoke the key people, events of the night of December 16 and what followed in its wake.
"It is highly personalised material and required tremendous courage by the artists. It is a profound gesture of breaking the silence that has been culturally engendered as a response to sexual violence around the world," says Farber.

Although Farber's productions, including her previous one titled "Mies Julie" have toured the world extensively earning her a reputation for hard-hitting, controversial works, this is the first time she is showing in India.
"We are keeping our expectations open and very humble about it. We don't know how the audience will consider our play. We understand that we are bringing it home now," says Farber.

The production was conceived when Poorna Jagananthan contacted Farber on Facebook after the gruesome rape incident.

British Council, Unesco, Oxfan along with South African Airways and DHL have supported the production, which opened at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in London and has won Amnesty International's Freedom of Expression Award, the Scotsman Fringe First, and the Herald Angel Award for Outstanding New Play.


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