Theatre fest ends with play on femicide in Mexican city

Ruchika Goswamy
During the performance at Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha in Pune.

A five-day international threate festival in Pune has concluded with a performance titled 'Women of Ciudad Juarez', which speaks about the femicide that has been taking place in Mexico's Ciudad Juarez city since the 90s.

Performed by a troupe from the United States called Teatro Travieso (Troublemaker Theatre), the play was featured as part of the fifth edition of a festival conducted by the International Association for Performing Arts and Research (IAPAR), a network of artists and arts professionals. Written by Mexican actress Cristina Michaus, and directed and translated by Jimmy Noriega, the play speaks out against all forms of violence against women and their psyche.

"We worked on the play till 2013 and presented it for the first time in 2014. Since then, we have been travelling with this play across the United States, Canada, Belgium and Columbia, and India is our sixth tour. Our whole message has not only been about how we let people know about what has been happening in Juarez, Mexico... but also about the ways in which we can tell people about violence against women, in every community, in every city. We want people to understand that it is not just one city's problem. The whole world needs to come together in order to stop violence against girls," Noriega told The Indian Express.

He added that the audience reactions in prior performances were usually those of disbelief, and that many people were oblivious to the issue. "Some of the young people did not believe something like this can happen. They could not believe that so many were murdered, tortured and raped. We spent the first part of our tour doing a lot of talkbacks on the issue," he added.

Performed by a cast of three, the play gave multiple perspectives: those of parents and daughters to factory workers and prostitutes.

Based on ethnographic interviews, the play draws tangents to stories of women from Ciudad Juarez -- the ones who went missing, the ones who were never found. It was the first performance by the Troublemaker Theatre in India.

"It is a global responsibility. We think there are a lot of parallels between Mexico and India, like people with such different backgrounds. Forces like world industrialisation create circumstances where violence can happen. People (in power) see labour and capitalise the driving forces rather than protecting girls and women. As artists, we only do what we know how to do and that is to create works that speak to the causes," said Noriega.