Entertainment Theatre 15 Aug 2016 Sexual harassment on ...

Sexual harassment on the stage

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | SAHARSSH
Published Aug 15, 2016, 12:07 am IST
Updated Aug 15, 2016, 6:55 am IST
I Dream Before I Take The Stand by city’s Manch Theatre group gave the audience a lot to intellectually munch on.
Actors Ankur and Shailaja on stage during the play I Dream Before I Take The Stand.
 Actors Ankur and Shailaja on stage during the play I Dream Before I Take The Stand.

Whose fault was it? This is the big question, in the context of sexually harassed women, that the play I Dream Before I Take The Stand, staged by Manch Theatre, tried to decipher through its story.

Written by Arlene Hutton and directed by Shailaja, the play staged on Thursday in the city, portrays what a woman goes through, should she be so defiant as to go to the police after being sexually harassed.

 

The play is a simple conversation between a cop and a victim where the cop is trying to understand what exactly happened. Throughout the play, you cannot help being in awe of the writing which is spot on crisp. Through her writing, Arlene twists the victim’s answers to simple questions like, ‘What is your height’, or ‘What were you wearing’, into her guilt. When the cop asks how long was your skirt, the answer, ‘Just above my knees’, somehow gets believably twisted into, ‘Oh, so you were half naked!’ Every answer of the victim is repeated by the cop with such innuendos and indignation that it turns into some sort of guilt for the victim and she starts apologising for it and defending it. Then at the end, the cop takes all these suggestions and does what we see being done every day. He says, “So it was your fault that you were looking so attractive and were out in the open.”

 

The victim, played by Shailaja herself, was portrayed beautifully. The slight shivering of her hands, the natural shaky voice and the hesitation, her tangible discomfort, everything was conveying to the audience the character’s mental trauma. It was bringing to life the phrase a rape after the actual rape. Ankur, playing the cop, successfully made the audience detest his character. The entire conversation was beautifully supplemented by a dance sequence narrating the whole situation, which was not a part of the actual play.

What the team lacked was the technicalities of the stage. The sloppy technology killed a lot of scenes. There were blackouts in the wrong places, when the characters still had dialogues left. The spotlights were completely out of focus and ended up casting huge shadows on the actors.

 

But the biggest technical oversight was not having stage wings. Lamakaan has a small stage, but one where a makeshift wing can be easily put. Without the wings, actors had to walk across the stage in front of the audience and stand in a corner waiting for an entry. Seeing a person standing out of character and then immediately enter the story not only creates a distraction, but also makes the characters less believable. This even caused Shailaja, who was very much in grip of her character, come out in the end to deliver her last line in a manner which was completely out of her character.

 

...




ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
-->