A playwriting workshop for women, organised by Nireeksha, saw the participants get their act together

The women are in line, buckets in hand. One of them is trying to pump water from a water pump while another is checking to see if something is blocking the flow of water from the tap. The women soon realise however, that there will be no water today. They disperse, disappointment written on their faces.

This is a scene from an impromptu skit, members of a playwriting workshop for women performed. A cylindrical cone, a box and a piece of wood acted as a water pump. As for buckets, some of them were carrying flower pots!

For a bunch of amateur artistes, this group of women sure acted like professionals. “Well, most of us have some experience in theatre. For instance, my colleagues, Sathi Neelakandan, Radhamani M., Priya Joshy and Viji V.M. performed ‘Bheri’, a skit we created in connection with Kudumbashree’s 14th anniversary last year. We performed the skit across Kerala,” says Sinny Joseph, a member of Kudambashree Mission.

The power of theatre

It is the power theatre has to reach out to people that has brought this motley group together. “Theatre is a powerful tool for communicating ideas and entertaining people; it is an effective way to get a message across. All of us here have something to say and that is why we registered when we saw the advertisement in the newspaper,” says Geetha C.P, a theatre artiste.

But what is it that they want to say to their audience? “We want to highlight various social issues but mostly that of women. Women have been taught to be seen and not heard. They need to learn to speak up and voice their angst and concerns. All of us women at this workshop have something we want the audience to sit up and listen to,” says Mini S.K., a freelance journalist.

If one longs to voice her concerns regarding the increase in alcoholism amongst men, the other wants women to discover their self-worth.

However, to get their message across they first need to put it down on paper and that was where the 12-day long workshop by Nireeksha Women’s Theatre and National School of Drama Regional Resource Centre, Bangalore, came in.

Women and writing

Says E. Rajarajeswari, a founder member of Nireeksha: “There are a lot of male playwrights but very few women. We hope to change that through this workshop. Nireeksha views theatre as a means of mobilising women. By training women in the fine act of playwright, we hope to bring in more stories from a woman’s point of view and touch on issues related to women. In this workshop, the students had playwriting sessions, an orientation session on how to stage a play and more with the guidance from able experts in the art of playwriting to name a few.”

Multi-faceted artiste Kavalam Narayana Panikkar, playwright and vice chairman of Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi T.M. Abraham, poet and translator Ashalatha and Koodiyattam artiste Kalamandalam Sindhu were some of those who led the workshop.

The workshop, which concluded yesterday had actor Madhu as the chief guest. The participants, Sinny, Sathi, Priya, Viji, Geetha, Mini, Beena J.S, Jisha S.K., Yamuna V. and Ashwathy Vijayan presented a play, which they created themselves. Madhu was felicitated at the event.