Sexual violence against boys, men – theatre speaks up

New Delhi: Male sexual abuse and violence, which often gets brushed under the carpet due to a prevailing culture of extreme shame associated with it, is now being articulated through two award winning plays touring India.

“The Tricky Part” and “All the Rage” – solo plays by American author and writer Martin Moran, which focus on sexual abuse of the male child, is set to be shown here for two days beginning November 15.

Actress Poorna Jagannathan, who earlier this year had produced ‘Nirbhaya’, a play on crimes against women featuring celebrities like hairstylist Sapna Bhavnani, is also producing the two plays based on Moran’s own real life experiences.

The author offers a firsthand perspective on sexual abuse in the plays crafted by director Seth Barrish.

“Today every one in two boys is sexually abused in India. That means half of all boys in India are exposed to an unwanted sexual interaction. It’s mind-boggling. But the culture of extreme shame surrounding male sexual abuse prevents survivors from seeking help or healing,” says Jagannathan.

Pointing out that most times it is internalised and cycles of abuse just continue, the “Delhi Belly” actress says she hopes the plays can “pry open a difficult yet vital conversation.”

“I strongly believe that ending sexual violence against boys is one of the keys to ending the cycles of violence,” says Jagannathan.

oran, who is now based in New York had debuted in “The Tricky Part” in the year 2004. The autobiographical play narrates the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old by a counselor. The abuse went on for three years and the play described how Moran eventually came to forgive the counselor as well as himself.

The actor-writer turned the play into a book in the year 2006 and last year wrote a follow up play “All the Rage”, which he says is how he tackled questions by people who kept wondering about “where was the element of anger in my story?” “I felt I had to set out to answer this question. Writing the play is how I tackled the question,” Moran told PTI.

“And the more I perform the plays the less they become about me and my life. They become ever more deeply about universal human questions we are all trying to answer. What is forgiveness and compassion? How do we begin to understand one another? The plays are really all about love. Not about me,” says the author.

Moran, who just wrapped up shows in Mumbai says he felt the audience was “very attentive and intense.”

“The play while full of humor and moments of lightness goes truthfully and deeply into one boy’s story of abuse and his journey towards forgiveness and even joy,” says Moran.

“The directness of the play seemed to surprise and deeply move the Bombay audiences. We had many lively conversations afterwards. There was an energy about this exchange that felt richer to me more urgent than in other places I have performed,” says Moran.