A couple of years ago, when Bengaluru-based Sujatha Balakrishnan, founder of Theatre for Change, tried to audition for women’s roles, she observed ageism was rampant. “I then thought to myself, why don’t I create my own platform?” This was the first of the many steps that led to the curation of The Rainbow is Enough, inspired from American playwright and poet Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf. Sujatha has adapted Shange’s ‘choreopoems’ (from When The Rainbow is Enuf) into narrative monologues.
“I auditioned women who were over 50. When they asked me for a script, ‘I told them there isn’t one, it is written by you, no one knows your story better than you. Why don’t you bring out stories you have brushed under the carpet that you need to unleash?’” Some wondered if they could be a part of this novel idea and eventually out of 15 women, five showed interest. “We performed our first show in 2017 in Bangalore.” Sujatha was approached by youngsters too. “We brought them on board as they wanted to be part of the project.” She says that the production is a work in progress, emerging voices will be accommodated.
The intent of When The Rainbow is Enough is to bring to stage the voices of the marginalised, explains Sujatha. “We always come with a dominant narrative. The stage is for liberation, not for domination, every story needs to be told, heard and counted. So we have performers speaking in Tamil, Kannada and Punjabi.”
The Rainbow is Enough, which has had 22 shows in India and abroad, has been re-imagined as a digital performance. “We have recorded performances anew for YouTube. The stories are of a transgender activist, a woman cab driver and a story of how a woman raised her differently-abled child. We have professional actors from Mumbai and Bengaluru.”
The first video by Urvashi Goverdhan will be uploaded on May 15 at 7 pm on the Theatre for Change Facebook page with a link to YouTube. “We will upload the other videos through the week, and you can watch it whenever you get the time. Each monologue is 10 to 15 minutes long.”
The other performers include Shatarupa Bhattacharyya, Yashoda Satyanarayana who is a cab driver, transgender activist Shanti Muniswamy, Suresh Sharma, Parul Bhargava, Latha Prasad, Anita Mithra, Mimansa Ojha, Vasanti Sundaram and Monica Mahendru.