Pallavi Pundir
Because they have a Voice
Indian Express, 09.01.2012

Virginia Woolf’s unforgettable words, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman”, became directional for Polish theatre director Marta Górnicka. They echoed cultural stereotypes about femininity. “There doesn’t exist a language which belongs to women,” she states gravely. In 2009, to counteract her own grim conclusion, she created a new language for women through the one medium she knows best: theatre. Górnicka called it Chorus of Women, a play she has put together with 28 non-professional female actors, which will be showcased at Delhi’s 14th Bharat Rang Mahotsav. “I decided to create a new kind of language,” she says, adding how chorus became an integral part of her work. “Modern theatre has stopped using the element of chorus. I felt I must restore it and find new forms for its theatrical presence. But first, I had to restore women to the chorus,” she adds.

Curiously, while the entire narrative is about the search for a language, Chorus of Women has no verbal language. Instead, there are whispers, shouts, sighs, rattles, singing, laughter, even computer sounds. “I collide various languages, expecting that something new and important will happen. I put a bomb under the language and disarm it with laughter. It changes language into voice, initiating its subversive force,” explains Górnicka. Over 150 actors were auditioned to choose 28 performers for the production — aged between 22 to 66 years. “Their voice is the voice of different groups of women from varied professions and age groups. All of them have added to the play with their unique personalities and authenticity,” she says.

After taking the show to countries like Japan, Germany, Ireland and Czech Republic, Chorus of Women seeks an audience in India. “I think it creates a universal story, which is legible to people all over the world. I will be in India for the first time, so I can only sense that this is the case there as well. Stereotypes are present everywhere, reproduced by television, advertisements and movies,” says she.

This content has been restricted to logged in users only. Please login to view this content.