The Feminist Movement Involving The Arts And Theater

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Mangai Notes:

1) Background Information:

Mangai had a slightly different background that most of the feminists from India. Mangai didn’t have the same struggles that the other feminists had had, thus leading them to feminism. Rather, Mangai came from a place of education that led her to feminism. Mangai would use a very unique approach to the feminist movement involving the arts and theater. With all of that being said, I feel that I can dive a little into her past.

Mangai is the pseudonym of V. Padma. She was born in 1959. As a young girl, she lived with her grandparents and was part of a large family consisting of 3 girls and 4 boys. Mangai explained that she was mostly raised by her grandparents with her sister and her older
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Mangai’s involvement with the AIDWA was as an activist, where she developed a theater group called “Sakthi”, which stages plays for women.

Mangai is also one of the founders of the Chennai Kalai Kuzhu that had been established in 1984. The Chennai Kalai Kuzhu is a street theater group that often performs plays about social and political issues. It should be noted that much of Mangai’s work utilizes theater to promote her agenda for women’s rights in India. She said in her interview, “The genre itself resists you if you are a woman” (Mangai, 2003). She was referring to women involved in theater and the arts. Mangai would eventually become involved in a theater group called “Voicing Silence”. She has written and performed in many plays. Her Tamil plays have brought to light many issues of gender, theater, and language that belong to many debates within feminism. (Tamil is an ethnic group in parts of Southern India and Sri Lanka).

The group Voicing Silence, has focused on a variety of issues concerning gender from female infanticide to recasting women in leading roles that are typically portrayed by men. This allows for women to break out of gendered stereotypes and be perceived in a new manner. Mangai has made a point to mention that there are usually equal parts of performing men and women on stage within the Voicing Silence group, in order to ensure an equal gender ratio. Moreover, Mangai has helped address issues of literacy. Mangai mentioned in a later
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