‘Irakalodu Mathramalla Samsarikkendathu’, a play staged by Abhinaya in the capital city, raised pertinent questions about issues faced by women.
In place of the usual ‘talkathons’ that are organised to observe International Women’s Day on March 8, Abhinaya Theatre Group staged a brilliant play that was premiered in the capital city on the same day. The play ‘Irakalodu Mathramalla Samsarikkendathu’ raised several questions about the status of women in Kerala and the gender divide. Instead of shrill cries of protest or sloganeering, the play, comprising six monologues by six women, highlighted the turmoil and pain, physical and emotional, of women caught on the wrong side of the establishment or society on account of circumstances. Coming from different strata of society and age groups, these women spoke about various issues ranging from infanticide to child marriage and domestic violence but all their narratives underlined their social isolation and alienation from a society that expected them to be fit into a mould made by a patriarchal world.
Without descending into melodrama or pathos, the characters, enacted by some of the best theatre actors in the State, depicted a clear picture of the gender divide in the State that might well be a universal portrait of womanhood all over the world. Sujatha, Surabhi, Shalilaja Ambu, Parvathy, Chinu Kuruvilla and Babbila Khan essay the women in the play while Gopalan, Anil, Ajay, Pratheesh and Baiju play the male characters. Directed by M.G. Jyothish and D. Reghoothaman, the play, organised under the auspices of the Department of Social Justice and departments that come under it, was performed at the auditorium of the Government College of Women. Although not the best of venues in the capital city by any stretch of imagination, that the hall was jam-packed all through the performance speaks about the play and its impact.
As the women came on stage to narrate their hard-hitting stories, the audience forgot the heat, the bad audio quality and the long wait for the play to start. Crisp dialogues interspersed with graphic descriptions of the violence that the women were subjected to presented a grim picture while the satire in some of the narratives struck a chord with the audience. The male characters, nameless men who symbolised the different arms of the government, were deftly woven into the play. Their camaraderie and networking were in stark contrast to the isolation of the women and their lives. Video projections broadbased the play and linked it to current events of violence against women that had shocked the conscience of the nation.
What heightened the impact of the play was its refusal to provide solutions or answers to any of the questions raised by the women. It was left to the audience to mull over what they had heard and seen. Video clippings of an anti-woman tirade that had taken place on the same college grounds were greeted with booing and hooting. The play ended with a defiant roll of drums.
‘Irakalodu Mathramalla Samsarikkendathu’ will be staged in Kochi on March 17 and in Kozhikode on March 23.