“Why don’t you let children enjoy their childhood? Why do you force young girls to wear sarees and get married?”, sings the performers holding hands as the impromptu audience under the banyan tree breaks into an applause. This is the troupe’s 16th performance, and they have been attracting crowds everywhere they perform.
“I never thought I would be acting in plays across our villages”, says Bhumika. “I signed up for the KKS theatre workshop because I liked to act and sing – at home. Three weeks later, we are travelling from village to village performing in public spaces.”
Bhumika and friends are part of the Kanasu Kishori Sanghatane (KKS), a network of 250 sanghas of adolescent girls in Kukanoor taluk of Koppal district. The sanghas were initiated by Visthar to promote gender equality and resist gender-based violence.
25 girls from the network signed up for a theatre camp in the summer. Led by Nazar, the girls developed 4 street plays to raise awareness about the violence and discrimination faced by girls – child marriage, child labour, sexual harassment, domestic violence, etc. The girls then divided themselves into two troupes. With the suport of adults, they have been going from village to village, raising awareness and speaking out against violence.
“I was moved by the performance of the girls”, says Lakshmappa, “I was returning home from the field when I saw there was something going on in front of the temple. I hope my daughter and son can see this performance too. I told the girls they should come and perform here again.”