Shadow Liberation

Tuesday, 13 March, 2012

On the 13th of March 2012, students and staff of Montfort College were invited to face the shadows through participatory shadow theatre, directed by Evan Hastings. This drama highlighted the injustice that exists everywhere but is mostly hushed up. Even in the 21st century, gender violence including child molestation within families or other closed circles is quite rampant. It is a struggle to assert one’s sexual orientation if it is not what is ‘expected’.

Shadow Liberation questioned what oppression and gender violence did to a person. The play was real in the sense that most of the actors were just narrating their story. Evan Hastings prepared the audience with a few warm up exercises, a few instructions and a brief summary of what to expect.

The play was divided into two parts. The first part consisted of several acts, depicting a scene in the present along with flashbacks to help understand the story a whole lot better. The second part was entirely up to the audience. The audience was allowed to choose the act that they wanted to be replayed by shouting pause and in turn had to come up and re do the scene in a way they thought would be the best to fight the issue.

The first part of the play portrayed scenes that the youth of today’s urban India could relate to. The themes included differential treatment of children because of their gender, a young girl revealing that she is a lesbian to her parents and their reaction to the same, a young man who flaunts his chauvinism, a couple struggling with their anger and hurt which ends with the young man being physically violent with his girlfriend, being blamed for the negative aspects of one’s relationship, childhood molestation of a girl by an older cousin, childhood molestation of a boy by his female teacher at school, a young girl being raped by a young man as she was waiting for her friend to drop her back home and people struggling with the consequences of these traumatic experiences. These themes were gracefully woven together as the events of one night where all the youngsters get together to celebrate their graduation. The cast emoted exceptionally well and included well timed jest into the sensitive issues which captured and held the audience. The play ended with several questions directed towards the audience.

The second half of the play had the participatory component where the audience where invited to come and re-enact the scene of their choice and modify it with their choice of action. Each member of the audience, who came up on stage to re-enact the scene of their choice, added their style to it. Some added understanding and patience to their scene, while others added assertiveness and independence to theirs. It highlighted the need to question injustice when we see it and to stand up against it. Evan Hastings concluded the show with a general discussion aimed at asking ourselves about these issues that still exist and what we can do to counteract it, which left a lot of room for introspection.
The event was an example of diversity in addressing a plaguing issue such as oppression and gender violence.