Martin Moran’s one-man-shows to tour across Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore
Aristotle said the function of theatre is “to heal the city”. No other play in recent memory has awakened and transformed audiences like ‘Nirbhaya’ did. Written by Yael Farber and produced by Poorna Jagannathan, Nirbhaya’s actresses came forward and “broke their silence” on sexual violence. It inspired audiences from all over the world to do the same and it the play served as a catalyst to speak about misogeny and sexual violence towards women.
Jagannathan, however, remained haunted by one particular statistic: 1 in 2 boys are sexually abused in India. That means half of all boys in India are exposed to an unwanted sexual interaction. “The culture of shame surrounding male sexual abuse prevents survivors from seeking help or healing. As a result, cycles of abuse are common. At a time we are trying to combat sexual violence against women and eradicate its roots, we remain relatively blind and silent to sexual violence against boys and men,” she said.
Her next production, she hopes, will serve to pry open this difficult yet vital conversation. This November, Martin Moran is set to tour India with his two award-winning one-man-shows: The Tricky Part and All The Rage. Both explore Moran’s real life: between the ages of 12 and 15, Marty had a sexual relationship with an older man, a counselor he met at a Catholic boys camp. Deftly crafted by director Seth Barrish who will be touring as well, Moran offers a first-hand perspective on sexual abuse. Full of complexity, honesty and surprising humor, Martin’s shows leave every single member of the audience transformed and deeply engaged with a subject previously inaccessible to them.
Speaking about the tour, Moran says he has always been drawn to India but when he heard of the sexual violence statistics, he felt an urgency to make sure his plays were witnessed here. “I hope my plays can offer a real chance for communion and discussion of difficult topics. Men are particularly secretive about matters of sexual abuse. This has been very true in my young life, being raised Catholic. But secrecy and reticence are very much a part of the idea of what it is to be masculine. To be male is to be stoic,” he says. Speaking of the play, he says he uses comedy to tackle a hard subject: “My plays are full of humor and of gentleness and fun language. This is all a way of inviting us into the deeper territory of darker questions. We need to laugh in order to trust one another and sit together to talk about the tough stuff.”
He also offered a glimpse of his journey from presenting his story for the very first time till now, “When I first began telling my story it was very difficult. I felt so vulnerable, ashamed, even embarrassed. But telling besides giving light and space, gives strength. By attempting to tell and examine the truth, you begin to 'own' the story less. It is less you and more simply human. And over time it becomes simply one part of the great tapestry of who you are in the world.”
Talking about the uniqueness and universality of Martin’s stories, director Seth Barrish says, “Sharing stories is a great form of healing. Martin's piece, while it describes some sexual abuse is ultimately not about the abuse, but rather about the search for transcending trauma of any sort. I, myself, have never been sexually abused, but I find his piece completely relevant to my life in view of things that tore me apart, how I often wrestled with how to heal myself and move on.”
Jagannathan, speaks about her decision to tour Moran’s plays in India. “I strongly believe that ending sexual violence against boys is key to ending sexual violence. Fredrick Douglass said,’It is easier to build strong children that it is to repair broken men.”’ Sexual abuse leads to warped notions of sexuality, acceptance of violence as the norm and a proclivity to perpetuate the cycle of violence.
I’m hoping Martin’s honest, immensely moving, thought provoking tour will help open what is commonly referred to as a “can of worms” - the topic of sexual violence against boys. His surprising journey, his grappling with masculinity and his urgency to crack open the silence and complexities of sexual violence is something that I hope will inspire people and institutions to start talking about this vital subject.
- Starting this month, the two plays, each 80 minute long, will tour along with Martin Moran, director Seth Barrish and producer Poorna Jagannathan across Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.
- The plays run in Mumbai between October 30 and November 2, 2014 at the much-awaited Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest held at the National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) and Prithvi Theatre.
Subsequently, both plays will be staged at the Rangashankara theatre in Bangalore between November 11 and 13, and reach Delhi to the India Habitat Centre on November 15 and 16, 2014.
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