STEERING ADVOCATIVE THEATRE
Handpicked as one of ARTRA’s Emerging Artists, Best of 2019, Piumi Wijesundara is celebrated for her exemplary theatrical works that question social norms and raise awareness to veiled challenges. Her production ‘Ovaryacting!’, written and directed by herself, caught our attention for the significance of the plot revolving around society’s wrongly perceived concept on menstruation, performed by the students of Methodist College, an all-female ensemble earlier this year. Hailing from the luscious landscape of Kandy, Piumi pursued her bachelors in English at the Department of English, University of Colombo and thereafter, worked with theatre practitioner and academic Ruhanie Perera. Piumi’s long-standing calling as a theatre practitioner, director, actor and writer was decided through enlightening experiences with talented and excelling casts and ensembles. Currently obtaining her Master’s in Theatre Directing at East 15 School of Acting, University of Essex UK, Piumi’s skill set in the field of theatre portray her conscientious dedication to question society through performance.
Drawing inspiration and influence by Sri Lanka’s leading theatre personality Ruwanthi de Chickera of Stages Theatre Group and upon witnessing plays of Harold Pinter for his capacity to hold up a mirror to society relaying its wholeness, she states “I think deep introspection is necessary for us at a time when a large portion of society chooses to be complicit or apathetic about what is going on around us socially and politically.” We found ‘Ovaryacting!’ exemplary as it cleverly addressed social stigmas and myths surrounding female menstruation while presenting what young girls go through owing to misinformation, lack of empathy, lack of sanitation and proper education on female menstruation. Previously featured on ARTRA Magazine Edition 47, ‘Overyacting!’ was first performed by the students of Methodist College, at the 33rd Annual Inter-School Drama Competition organized by Royal College, Colombo and won the award for Best Play. We applaud Piumi’s navigation of the script as it opens up and leaves space for conversation about the period and aspects of menstruation to be discussed liberally. Based on true opinions and experiences, ‘Ovaryacting!’ takes on a humorous, light and comical characteristics to relate effortlessly about sensitive and serious topics. Consequently, ‘Ovaryacting!’ presented itself as a form of performative activism allowing for alternate perspectives and educational value.“I felt like I had achieved what every theatre practitioner wants to achieve when young boys, girls and parents left the theatre ready to have a conversation about menstruation, a dialogue and conversation that carries well beyond the walls of theatre,” she stated in alacrity.
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