Whose Sari Now? stops off at West Yorkshire Playhouse this month as part of a national tour. The one-woman show, fronted by writer and performer Rani Moorthy, explores the complexity of the sari and the role it plays in the lives of women.
The word Sari comes from the Sanskrit meaning “strip of cloth,” and whether draped on ancient statues of Goddesses or on contemporary icons like Madonna and Samantha Cameron, affords the woman both great allure and power all at once. The vulnerability comes from the lack of structure, the nature of the drape comes from what the woman is doing, her social status, her caste, the one size fits all, the transitory nature of the garment and in the bare midriff.
The first of a trilogy of plays inspired by the sari, this funny and poignant production sees Rani Moorthy performing five characters whose stories are bound together: an old Asian woman whose saris are like her second skin, a young mother giving birth in a war zone wrapping her twin babies in her wedding sari, a Malaysian historian connects the sari with mythology, a transgender reflects on his girlfriend’s sari obsession, a low caste weaver drapes the sari on a member of the audience who she is conditioned to believe is more worthy and a character who contemplates her relationship with the sari in her final hours.
A Sri Lankan Tamil, Rani grew up in Malaysia, was educated in Singapore and came to live in the UK in 1996. Rani said: “The sari is an extremely complicated garment. Usually first worn in the coming of age ritual, the drape is a constant reminder that it’s really held up by folds and knots that could easily unravel. And yet women work in it, give birth in it and are cremated in it. The metaphor is rich for exploration, especially when examining the role of the sari in the lives of second and third generations from the South Asian Diaspora.”
Whose Sari Now? unfolds to specially created music drawn from a variety of influences including classical Indian Carnatic music, pop, hip-hop, Tamil rap, Malay instrumentation, western classical and contemporary music.
Whose Sari Now? is at West Yorkshire Playhouse from Thursday 10th – Saturday 12th November at 7:45pm. There is a 2:30pm matinee on Saturday 12th November. Tickets cost £12.00 – £14.00. Book online at www.wyp.org.uk or call the Box Office on 0113 213 7700. The production transfers to Gerry’s Studio, Theatre Royal Stratford, on 24th November.