“When there is a wall behind you and a knife in front, the enemy wants you to take the knife. But you do not take the knife in your body – you take it in your hand”. Purva Naresh’s emotive and explosive adaptation of this true story is one that captures the essence of feminism at its roots, and encapsulates the political power of theatre. A story that is both empowering and heart breaking, upsetting but enlightening – Pink Sari Revolution tells the tale of 400,000 women fighting for freedom in Uttar Pradesh, and their fearless leader Sampat Pal. (Syreeta Kumar).
With a focus on the domestic and sexual violence these women are facing, and the high profile case of a young runaway framed for theft after refusing an arranged marriage, this production shows the power that theatre has in its ability to educate and empower.
Theatre is, and for the most part always has been, an outlet for social ideologies and change allowing for expression of voice and opinion in an artistic and creative way – creating a voice for those who may not have one, and promoting discussions which may have otherwise being avoided. Pink Sari Revolution does just this; enabling dialogue between societies that are worlds apart but are desperate to be better understood, or better at understanding.
It is overwhelming to witness, even simply on stage, the misogyny that still plagues society today – and even more devastating to know that these actions are based on true events. This is what makes this production so enthralling; watching these women take on the issues facing their patriarchal society and putting their lives in danger to provide a better life for those that come after them. Although Sampat Pal may in some ways be viewed as self-righteous, set in her ways and stubborn, there is no doubt that she is a powerful and an influential woman who undoubtedly saved thousands of lives and helped so many women to better their situation, and the company of Pink Sari Revolution portray this with emotion and a characterisation that grips you until the very end.
Designer Isla Shaw is heavy handed with the symbolism throughout; the subtle additions of bright, glowing cracks in the ground made during the momentous moments when we see these women standing up for themselves is a clear representation of the barriers being broken by these strong individuals. The symbolism of the pink saris is also a beautiful one, described by Sampat’s daughter (Ulrika Krishnamurti) as “the colour of the sky before a storm” – a perfect metaphor for the Gulabi Gang’s powerful actions.
Any fan of theatre, of politics, feminism or independence will not want to miss this. 4/5
Review written by Hazel Hinchcliffe.
Pink Sari Revolution is currently showing until Saturday 11th November at West Yorkshire Playhouse. For more information on the production, visit here…