Onstage in Uttar Pradesh

May 12, 2017
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Radio Drama Addressing Air Pollution Performed as Community Theater

In Raja Talab, a village in the heart of the Indian state Uttar Pradesh, the biggest event of the year is a celebration of Women’s Day. This year, people from 15 villages spilled into Raja Talab to hear empowering speeches from women accomplished in business, in politics, in media.

One group of local women decided to do something different. They got up on stage to perform scenes from the radio drama we produced and aired in the region, titled Ek Zindagi Aisi Bhi, or “The Life We Aspire For”.

Imagine: a 70-year-old woman who generally hates talking to people, running around the stage and shouting: “Woo! Woo! Woo!” In the skit, she played the role of a stubborn driver who won’t move his vehicle from the road.

“It was hilarious. The whole audience was cracking up”, said Anu Sachdev, who manages the production of the drama. The actresses were participants in the weekly “listener groups” for Ek Zindagi Aisi Bhi: they traveled 3 hours for each 50-person session. The drama plot focuses on reducing air pollution, but the show and its listener groups have been significant enough to these women that they chose to place it center stage on Women’s Day.

As Anu put it, “these women were really shy when they first joined the listener groups. But they have learned that they have a voice, and are starting to project it.”