Discussion on Gender Equality with Zubin Driver, Striptease-the gender dialogues
Last week, we had a scintillating discussion on Gender Equality with Zubin Driver who is The Writer and Director of the play Striptease-the gender dialogues. We would like to share with you his interesting views on Gender Equality and how he is going all out to reach more and more people to discuss Gender Issues which is the need of the hour. There are a lot of people who are talking about women’s empowerment but here there is a Man who is walking the talk!
- Can you tell our readers about the play Striptease-the gender dialogues?
Striptease-the gender dialogues is a collection of four monologues that deal with different aspects of gender issues. It was born out of an intention of reaching out to more and more people to discuss gender issues. As a play writer, I thought of taking this forward in my domain.
That is the genesis of the production.
- Tell us about naming the play ‘Striptease’? What is the objective/observation behind coming up with such a name?
We wanted to take the stereotypical notion of ‘Striptease’ and play with it. When we say the word ‘Striptease’ people have certain ideas about that. We wanted to take those ideas and sabotage them. We also wanted to be a little playful about the things we discuss.
- How are you different from other similar monologues? What is your USP?
Firstly, we are different in the sense that we take theatre to the people. We are completely open to performing in people’s living rooms. We travel all over the city. We have gone to places where there aren’t any English Theaters available. Art and theatre need not happen in a particular building. Theater can be created with the actors and the audience anywhere in the world. If the theatre group can move around it’s a joy.
Secondly, we perform the monologues and then we throw the floor open for discussions with the audience, both male and female participants, and discuss the issues brought alive in the play in detail. It is an interactive, immersive and meaningful session. The interaction with the audience is very important. We are not here to just do theatre. We are here to talk about issues that everybody needs to be talking about. In India, we don’t spend enough time having conversations. The culture of Intellectualism, that makes us richer people, is missing today.
- The characters in your play are sublime yet very relatable. How did you zero down on these characters as there are scores of others to choose from?
All the characters are vessels in which we can talk about many issues. For example, the monologue Devi talks ostensibly about a woman who is a homemaker and is dealing with domestic issues. She is relatable to a large number of women who are also Homemakers. She discovers an inner voice; we can call it Devi. The woman goes through a graph of empowerment and finds a universe within her. With this monologue, we want to tell people that the first step to empowerment is through you. Unless you know and get in touch with yourself, your journey of empowerment cannot start.
The monologue Striptease talks about the universal problem of women being objectified and how it takes away the humanity of a girl.
Wings is a philosophical/ poetic way of looking at things. It is about discovering your inner wings, what you want in life, your dreams and on your own terms. It is only when you discover these things you will be able to fly.
Booby trap talks about a troubled puberty; how so many people are put into a tremendous problem during puberty by the society. It talks about a girl whose body shape is changing and how she reacts. Real freedom can come only when we stop reacting. You can’t live your life as a reaction. Need to live it proactively. It’s all about choice
- What do you intend to achieve by this dialogue?
We want to create a culture of open discussion which is lacking in India. Social change only happens with a process. The process is having an open discussion; sharing of ideas in an environment you don’t feel threatened. An ideological, spiritual and emotional change can all happen when groups of people get together and talk. We felt that the discussions on Gender issues were not happening at all and there is a need for them to happen. We are not there to change you overnight. We want to at least start a discussion. We want to light the fire and want to tell you that it’s up to you now to take it forward; you open the discussion with your friends and family.
- There are many people who talk about Women’s Empowerment but you are walking the talk. What is your motivation?
I have spent the first half of my life being a typical man, a product of the patriarchal system. It took me some time in the last few years to deconstruct my ‘maleness’ and discover my feminine side. For me, it was a very personal spiritual journey. I see myself as a man and a woman. We all have male and female aspects of our personalities. All men need to discover and get in touch with their femininity which is part of the process of beginning to respect the beautiful feminine energy that is manifested all over the world. I wanted to converge my spiritual, Philosophical and material goals and therefore make my life more meaningful.
- Feminism is a highly misconstrued word. We would like to know feminism through your lens.
I don’t believe in labels. Feminism is too loaded a term. A man or a woman needs to walk on the path of self-inquiry, self-knowledge, Self-discovery and Self-empowerment. We spend a lot of time looking outwards. If we instead spend time looking inwards a lot of our perceived problems can diminish. Internal clarity gives you an external clarity.
- How has the journey with Striptease been so far? What next, where do you see it two years from now?
The Journey is twofold, the spiritual and the physical. The spiritual journey is continuous and the Physical journey will find its own way. Last month we did three performances in Scotland and we have got 4 invitations from around the world.