Next month, the Royal Exchange theater in Manchester, England, will host seven new works by female playwrights from around the world, all focusing on different experiences of childbirth. The four-day festival, simply titled “Birth,” will examine a wide range of issues — from modern maternity to population control — in works penned by playwrights from Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Syria, the U.K., and the U.S. “We wanted to talk about global health inequality and the place that it really comes into sharp focus in its birth practice,” festival director Emma Callander told the Guardian.
Indian playwright Swati Simha, 24, took the opportunity to look at the issue of mass sterilization in India, first spending two weeks in a rural village as part of her research process. “It was quite revealing,” she said. “There’s no electricity in the primary health centres and there’s no transportation. Women in labour can have to walk 10 kilometres [6 miles] to get to the nearest health centers.
“The big question is why spend so much money and resources on birth control as opposed to providing [better] healthcare.”
After each play, experts from the fields of science, the arts, academia, and politics will discuss the issues raised. “Theater doesn’t give answers, it provokes questions and if we want to provoke debate and provoke action then being in the same room as somebody and looking them dead in the eyes seems to be the most effective way to do that,” said Callander of the complex conversations she hopes the festival will inspire.
Watch Swati Simha discuss her play commissioned for the Birth festival:
Read the full story at The Guardian.