In Eve Ensler’s new play I am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls, the lives, feelings and emotions of girls from different countries, cultures and socio-economic groups come alive on the Mumbai stage. As in The Vagina Monologues, some common themes run through these monologues: the day-to-day obstacles, threats and pressures women overcome. The play is a culmination of Ensler’s experience during her travels and interactions with young girls from 16 countries. Playwright Kaizaad Kotwal, who has co-produced the play, says: “This is the first time in India that a plot revolves around young girls. They are not treated and portrayed as somebody’s mother, sister, girlfriend, wife or somebody’s idea of women.”
Ensler, who is in town for the world premiere of her new production, talked to Lounge about why she chose India for the world premiere, Indian women and her inspiration. Edited excerpts:
Why did you choose India for the world premiere of your new play?
India is a great country. But the main reason I chose India for my world premiere is because of Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal and Kaizaad Kotwal. They really did a fantastic job with The Vagina Monologues. They nurtured the play, honoured it. The play met with criticism but the two of them stood up for it with such dignity.
Besides, there are so many women in India. I find their potency, aliveness, multiculturalism and femininity very attractive. So if Indian women undergo a change, then they can really change the world.
Do you think of doing a play about men?
My dream is that every man should also be able to say I am emotional. Right now, we are in a process of producing a piece for men. It is called V-man. It focuses on what being a man involves. Like we did for this play, we will talk to men from all over the world, interview them and conduct workshops with them. The result of all these activities will be finding “10 ways to be man”. We will then script the monologues based on their answers. It is likely to be completed by 2011.
You have completed 13 years as a playwright. How would you describe your journey so far?
Scripting and directing these plays have changed my life phenomenally. I have realized the depth of various problems that women face. It has allowed me to overcome fear. I have also realized that overcoming violence against women and empowering them is crucial to the survival of not just women but also of humanity.
What keeps you going? Where do you look for inspiration?
Women! Women who survive inspire me. Grass-root activists give me hope. Women who turn pain into power and inspire others to do so also inspire me.
Did any Indian woman’s story strike you in particular?
I met this one particular girl who asked me how to deal with parents. She came from a very conservative family and her parents obviously could not understand what she thought and felt. When she met me she was crying inconsolably.
The play will premiere at Tata Theatre on Thursday. Passes are available at NCPA.