By Kavitha Rao
Friday, November 20, 2009
Eve Ensler's new play, "I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Lives of Girls," just had its global debut in India. Some audience members found it to be preachy, but others said it fit the times.
"Perhaps it is a rant," said Kaizaad Kotwal, co-director of the play and co-founder of Poorbox Productions, the Indian theater company that staged the play. "But it's about time we ranted. Six million people are dead in the Congo, tens of thousands brutally raped, and no one in India knows about it because our media only focuses on Bollywood stars. Things have gone too far for subtlety and diplomacy. I say: shout louder!"
At the premiere, Ensler, 56, who lives in New York City, praised the multiculturalism of India. "I decided to premiere this play in India partly because India has more women than any other country," she said. "I hope this play helps Indian women to be strong and learn how to say no."
Currently, Ensler is campaigning against the rapes occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a U.N report estimated that 200,000 women have been raped in the last decade.
Over the past 10 years, Ensler's charity, V-Day, says it has raised more than $70 million for projects that stop violence against women.
"The Vagina Monologues," Ensler's groundbreaking play first performed in 1996, has been very successful in India, where it has been staged by Poorbox Productions for over five years. It has been translated into Hindi and local languages. Proceeds from the play have gone to local projects that help women affected by violence.
"We need to look at this play not just as a literary work, but as something that might change people's lives, as 'The 'Vagina Monologues' did," said Kotwal.
At the Bangalore show, Ensler encountered a protest outside the theater by around 10 people from a male support organization; they said the play was anti-male.
In Mumbai, half the audience were men.
"In India, most women don't have a voice," said Anant Pethe, a male viewer. "This is a fantastic play because we Indians never talk about things that happen all around us, such as forced marriages and feticide. I don't think it's anti-male at all."
Pethe said the new play might have another, unexpected effect. "Women have feelings too," he said. "I think this play will help men understand that."
Kavitha Rao is a Mumbai-based journalist who writes about current affairs, culture and the arts. Her website is at www.kavitharao.net
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