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 with different 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, and a girl quits dancing when she is shamed for moving 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 realizing 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 the States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and overseas in Nepal, 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 the right to vote to topics like human trafficking and prostitution, the young theatre actors have used street theatre to present their perspective before the 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 entry.

“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 is selected to be a part of Faces.

The theatre group is currently working on a play on the trials and tribulations of army personnel stationed at war zones.

This article originally appeared in The Hindu on March 20, 2019, and has been reposted with permission.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.