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A street play that conveyed hard-hitting messages on body shaming

The 20-minute street play was presented by Faces, the theatre group of GITAM University

In a society that is obsessed with everything, public perceptions can make or break a person’s idea of self worth. ‘Fat is bad’, ‘dark is ugly’, ‘thin is sick’ — these attitudes are abuse inflicted on victims. It is also called ‘body shaming’ or bullying.

A 20-minute street play called ‘Shame’ by Faces, the theatre group of GITAM University, dwelt on this theme in a hard-hitting manner.

The play dealt withdifferent instances. There is shame in having periods, being fat, being thin, being bold… For instance, one part narrated the story of a girl who was constantly heckled for wearing a headscarf and how eventually people’s comments lead her to depression and turned her into a recluse. In other narratives, a boy breaks down after being teased for being over-weight, a girl quits dancing when she is shamed formoving around with boys in her dance club. There is also a monologue of a transgender person’s trauma as she is slut shamed constantly.

“Shaming is so prevalent that we have become insensitive. Sometimes, we make a joke at someone’s expense, little realising its negative impact on the hapless victims. It can lead to depression and even trigger suicidal thoughts. Through the play, we wanted to pass a message to the public to shun shaming,” says Yogesh Garimella, a member of Faces. The street play was a held as part of the Mathan Mahotsav, India’s largest street theatre festival held throughout the month of March across India in the States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Odisha, Andha Pradesh, West Bengal and overseas inNepal, Brazil and Nigeria.

The journey of Faces

  • The theatre group Faces was formed eight years ago and has been conducting street and stage plays and mimes on topics affecting the youth. From corruption and right to vote to topics like human trafficking and prostitution, the young theatre actors have used street theatre to present their perspective before public.
  • The theatre has 35 members today who meet every day to work on their future productions. Apart from performing at inter-college youth festivals in the city, the Faces team also took part in IIT-Kharagpur’s cultural fest and the annual fest of BITS Pilani (Hyderabad campus), where they stood third for a mime.
  • “Being a part of the theatre group, it has helped me to shed my inhibitions, address my fears and improve my confidence. This is the platform that has given us a voice to tell how we feel about various issues,” says Arnab Das, a second year engineering student and a member of Faces. Every year, auditions are held in the university during which a fresh batch of students are selected to be a part of Faces.
  • The theatre group is currently working on a play on the trials and tribulations of the army personnel stationed at war zones.

Performed by a team of 18 members and two instrumentalists, the street play instantly drew the attention of the weekend crowd at the parking area opposite YMCA, Beach Road. The young actors in their black outfits and red dupattas won a round of applause from the crowds. The play went beyond mere entertainment and there were many in the crowd who were visibly moved by what they had seen.

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