Theatre

Words of a woman

The Playwright is now 33. She still lives off her parents, can’t ever hold a relationship, travels only for research, looks like she dresses for funerals and doesn’t live a life of any real pleasure. She is depressed, feels helpless and is very very tired. Perhaps this is because she lets stories consume her. At least, that is what her (former?) partner says.

Deepika Arwind’s character, The Playwright, certainly seems to be treading that fine line between creativity and self-destruction, through most of her play. Arwind admits as much, “The playwright, in her own, manic and intense way seems to be heading in the general direction of doom, whilst creating her work,” says Bengaluru-based theatre-practitioner and writer whose play, The Playwright is Dead, has been shortlisted for this edition of The Hindu Playwright Award.

The winner of the prize, instituted in 2008, will be announced on August 10, at the launch of The Hindu Theatre Fest in Chennai.

Known for her strong focus on gender and identity, Arwind’s other work includes Nobody Sleeps Alone (nominated for The Hindu Metroplus Playwrights' Award 2013), A Brief History of Your Hair (supported by India Foundation for the Arts, The New Voices Arts Project and Lshva Studio) and her children's play One Dream Too Many that was invited to the International Playwright's Intensive at The Kennedy Centre, Washington DC.

She has won the Toto Award for Creative Writing, received the Lavanya Sankaran Fellowship for the Sangam House Writers' Residency, and is currently working on a children's book. Her current work No Rest in the Kingdom that deals with the daily annoyances of being a woman in this country will be staged at The Hindu Theatre Fest this year.

The Playwright is Dead is an unpublished and unperformed piece of work that examines a playwright’s tussle with her own writing, “a search for the voice of a playwright who is a woman, and deeply affected by the dearth of interesting and real women characters in the theatre,” says Arwind, pointing out that it also “ looks inwards, at the act of creating something – the choices or representation and the inevitably contriving nature of it.”

The play skims over the life of this playwright from the age of 17 to 33, sometimes dipping in more deeply to examine scenes of her plays or conversations with lovers, mentors and characters to capture the evolution of the playwright and the woman. “At 17, she is trying to emulate Edward Albee and by 21, she is obsessed with the elusive idea of metaphor, and by 30 she can only live inside of her politics and her questions,” says Arwind, adding that the playwright tires progressively over the course of the play.

And though the tone of the narrative is mostly light and funny, a certain pathos creeps in as it the play progresses. “I suppose you could say the trigger for it has been in some ways from my own work as an independent theatre practitioner, and conversations with other women performers and writers,” says Arwind, admitting that at one level the play is deeply autobiographical.

It is after all about a woman playwright , “and the one I know most closely is myself.” (This is the first of three interviews with the playwrights shortlisted for The Hindu Playwright Award. Watch this space tomorrow for more.)

 

Date: August 19, 2017

Venue: Museum Theater, Chennai

Time: 7.30 PM

 

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 1:07:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/words-of-a-woman/article19402205.ece

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