Theatre

Bodies at war

Theatre Nisha’s latest play, The Cut, talks about emotional conflict during war

Two people seeking comfort amidst the ravages of war are at the centre of Meera Sitaraman’s script, The Cut, which was shortlisted for The Hindu Playwright Award 2016. However, a closer look reveals that the story is woven around “comfort women”, who were forced to provide sexual services to troops during World War II. The 70-minute-long play features three characters, and is designed and directed by V. Balakrishnan.

Meera, who has also won Best Script of the Week twice at the Short + Sweet Festival, Chennai (2013, 2014), and was one of the 14 playwrights selected to be a part of the Writers’ Bloc workshop 2014 (Rage Productions and the Royal Court Theatre, London), talks about the writing of The Cut.

Since this story is anchored in a historical context, how did you relate it to contemporary times?

Just because it happened during World War II, it is not something we can’t relate to. At the end of the day, it is violence against women during conflict, and it is still prevalent during the Naxalbari movement or the civil wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, though, it is bracketed under a different name.

What was the research that went into this play?

I read up on stories that had already been covered and biographies. Many photo-journalists have done extensive work on comfort women. And, the Internet is your friend!

What was the most hard-hitting revelation?

One of the recurring stories was that after the war was over, many of these women were unable to sustain a relationship. A lot of them had several marriages and several families. That was disturbing.

You studied sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and medical anthropology in the U.K.. How much did the academic background help you deal with this issue?

As a part of the academic courses, I had worked on a paper on body politics in war; how across the world, bodies were violated in war zones and how people use self-immolation as a form of protest. So, the boundaries you create for yourself, in terms of what body is defined as, get shattered. It definitely has openeddifferent perspectives to me.

How have you adapted this serious issue into a script?

The play is entirely in English, and dialogue-oriented. It is mostly conversational, but people are not reading pages of monologues. These are short conversations. And, there is an element of suspense to the story.

Watch The Cut on January 27 (7 p.m.), 28 and 29 (3 p.m. and 7 p.m.) at Alliance Française, Madras. For tickets, call 96771 72897 or pick them up at the venue.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 11:52:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/Bodies-at-war/article17092489.ece

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