Mar 29 2019. view 105
V Day (Writings to End Violence against Women and Girls) by the Grassrooted Trust utilizes the platform of theatre to showcase real stories from Sri Lanka based on their interaction with survivors of violence and abuse. Their previous productions include V Day 2016 TENDERNESS, V Day 2017 RESOLUTIONS and V Day 2018 PATRI(AN)ARCHY.
This year, the Grassrooted Trust presents V Day 2019 COLOMBO 07 on interviews, discussions, and conversations on the varied manifestations of gender-based violence in Sri Lanka as it attempts to show that violence is not limited to rural and provincial settings.
We catch up with the cast and crew of V Day 2019 COLOMBO 07 to catch up with their skits and the characters they will portray.
1. Character Name
2. Tell us a little about your character and his/her personality and the theme of your skit?
3. The most difficult or trickiest part about playing your character?
4. Favourite line by the character?
2. The theme of the skit is domestic violence. My character Tashya is strong willed and has no qualms about being confrontational when need be. She is passionate about current societal topics and involves herself in lending a voice to them, even though not directly involved in the ground work for many. Even though not fully considered a part of the group of friends she meets at the coffee shop, is solely there to offer comfort and support to her friend she has taken in, in her time of need.
3. Balancing the portrayal of the character so as not to come off as a stereotype. Also, keeping the fact that we are in a coffee shop in mind!
4. Don’t particularly have a favourite, but least fave would be “He knows his onions.”
2. He is a Colombo party boy who’s now married with kids but still likes to go out. He’s a fun-loving guy out with his wife and her sister and a friend at a karaoke bar and casually doing some drugs while at it.
3. Nothing really, except that he’s on cocaine so is super hyper and quick to respond.
4. “Let’s sing that bloody song you like, that Shallow-lo-lo-low-lo-lo song”
2. It's a dark parody of a ladies coffee morning in Colombo 07. Sati is fairly harmless if a little ditzy and an amalgamation of some familiar personalities we all know!
3. Not laughing at some of her lines! Also playing alongside three powerhouse actors has been incredibly and terrifying. I've learned so much from them.
4. "Can't I do this - can't I stand in front of Queen Victoria and hold up the placards, I can then get my driver to take us to Independence Square"
2. She is a young wife who is partying with friends and family at a karaoke bar. The skit discusses how drugs are taken and who takes it. How the young are most affected by this and how the law to deter drug trafficking is useless.
3. I play myself so there isn’t anything tricky.
4. “We’re all a bloody joke”
2. My skit is called ‘Black Coffee, No Sugar’ and I play the role of an activist who’s passionate about many causes. The skit is set in a coffee shop and we’re all close friends meeting to catch up. What transpires next is, I learn that my close friend is being abused by her husband and the irony of the double standards I have towards her.
3. (no answer)
4. ‘Did you just say humans, versus women, Tamils and Muslims? Wonderful! Just wonderful.’
2. The theme of my skit is about sexual abuse through manipulation and blackmail. I wouldn’t say my character is weak. She's confident and very strong in my eyes. Her partner unfortunately makes use of a weakness, which is not really in her control, leaving her helpless and hopeless.
3. I have to portray someone’s life and the pain and suffering they have endured and continue to endure, in just a short span of time. What’s challenging about my role is to make sure I do justice to her story and be true to her as much as possible. The point being not to dissect someone’s life for entertainment but to raise awareness that people can and do such things to others. The more important role I play in this instance is to convince others to be empathetic, kind, gentle, and just be a better person.
4. Don’t really have one.
1. My name is S.
2. This play deals with the drug abuse culture in Colombo. I play the character of a party girl who is heavily into cocaine and other party drugs. She has a deviated septum but that still doesn't stop her from taking drugs.
3. The trickiest part for me in playing this role is having to snort while laughing.
4. 'far too young child'
Question – Tell us about the theme of your skit and your thoughts on it?
Danu Innasithamby on his skit “Can’t Pass It On”
“V day and working on these scripts have helped me understand that we as humans have lost the will to love one and other and respect each other no matter what. It has personality taught me so much and I hope it at least changes one person and how one person thinks. It may be called a play or performance - but what we do is real and it’s time we talk - it’s time we stand up, it’s time we change - I’m trying to.”
Haseeb Hassan on his skit “Deviant Septum”
“My role this year is to put myself in the shoes of a curious 21 year old youngster who prefers to hang out with an older crowd to learn more about recreational drugs and its influence. Although this sketch is less focused on tackling patriarchal values, it is my opinion that patriarchy tends to curtail the potential talent this country can benefit from in order to be a better well-developed nation”
Dharini Priscilla on her skit “Streetlight Named Desire”
" This year, I am portraying the role of a young female sex worker who walks the streets of Colombo 07 at night. Marginalized communities in Sri Lanka such as victims of gender-based violence, people living with HIV and the LGBT+ community face stigma and discrimination in every aspect of their lives. Negative attitudes towards these communities’ stem from a toxic combination of ignorance and prejudice. While coming together every year to discuss these issues via theatre, it is also important to think of long-term approaches that are effective, feasible and sustainable. I think this piece says less about the sex workers and more about the way we perceive them (and women in general) and how this perception impacts their life.”
Upekha Neligama on her skit “154’'
“It's important for me to be a part of this production which highlights the issues related to violence, abuse and trauma faced by women, children the LGBTQ communities. I truly believe that we live in a complacent society in which a majority tends to turn a blind eye towards these topics and its 'safe' to not be vocal about it. The least we can do for victims and the betterment of society is to break away from the perceived norms by highlight the stark reality that prevails in society”
Thilakshi Mallawa Arachchi on her skit “154”
“It is funny that we still have to resort to medieval mechanisms of self-defense where ever we go; an umbrella to hit with or a safety pin (hatta katté) to prick with! Uploading mobile phone recordings on social media to get the attention of the public and the police, is the 21st-century addition. When is this going to end?”
Amila Rajapakshe on his skit "154"
“Working with Grassrooted has been a pleasure always, I used to work with work on their HIV programme few years back and I was around from the time Grassrooted started V day in 2011. I feel that it is important to amplify the voice of sexual minority groups because their voice is most often misrepresented in mainstream. Likewise, amplifying voices of everyone who face violence is important, as a society, to understand us better and to find solutions collectively. For example, Sri Lanka has a very high domestic violence rate, over 90% women reported being victims of sexual harassment in public transport and even the violence which took place recently in Colombo and Ampara reflects who we are as a society. I think this year’s theme also says more about us as a society, patriarchy is the root cause violence in my opinion. Therefore, we need to find ways to address it. One play a year is not going certainly do that but I think V day is a platform to provoke and push people to think about their own action”
V Day 2019: Colombo 07 will go on boards at Idea Hell, Colombo 3 on Sunday, 31st of March at 7pm. Tickets are priced at LKR 1500, with 50% off for students, available at the Barefoot Gallery, and are also available online via 444.lk. Students please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your ticket. V Day 2019: Colombo 07 is suitable only for adults [18+]
Pictures by Kushan Pathiraja