Last year during the very last session of the writer’s development programme when we had a chance to have our scripts read out, Janet Steel the artistic director of Kali Theatre who were running the workshops, remarked how few of the scripts had a woman playing the lead character. This, despite the fact that all of us round the table were women!
The thought occurred to me again last night when, during a day-long workshop of my play ahead of its rehearsed reading this Friday, the lead actress, the very talented Shobu Kapoor talked about how excited she was to play the role I’d written for her. “I don’t get to play women like me”, she said (and I paraphrase), “I’ve been a single mum to my daughter since she was two. I go on dates, I meet men, I have a life but I never get written about. I am so fed up with the roles that get offered to me, almost always about arranged marriage that I often wonder why I am still acting. So these days, I have started writing for me. If no one else will do it, then I’ll do it myself. ”
Shobu brought a nuance and a darkness to the character that I had not envisaged while writing it. She embodied Durga with a richness that was both thrilling and humbling to watch.
When there are women all around us who lead infinitely complex lives, it is baffling that so few of us are choosing not to reflect reality this in our arts. As a result, actresses like Shobu Kapoor do not have roles to play and are reduced to cardboard cut outs. More is the pity.
Tickets for the rehearsed reading of my play Splinter to be staged on the 15th of January 2016 at Tristan Bates theatre in London can be bought by ringing 020 3841 6611 or from here.