Theatre as Advocacy: Asking for It and the Audibility of Women in Nirbhaya, the Fearless One
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Theatre Research International
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This article uses critical practice to explore making an ‘ethical response’ to Yaël Farber’s Nirbhaya, (‘fearless one’), a play incited by the fatal gang rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey in Delhi in December 2012. Requiring its audiences to witness testimonies of violence against women, Nirbhaya’s strategies raise complex relationships of witnessing and trauma, while insisting on the cultural audibility of women’s voices. Performing a shift from the testimonial to the persuasive, Nirbhaya can be seen as part of a global advocacy movement that asks audiences not only to bear witness and the responsibilities this entails, but also to become fellow activists. By attending closely to the voices of Nirbhaya, and to the use of female testimony as a tactic of local and global movements and geopolitical motivations, this article argues that female voices are displaced, mediatized and co-opted through their role as advocates and agents of cultural change.
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