Local play on #MeToo campaign to shed further light on sexual harassment

Play will be held on January 10 and January 11 2018

Ramsha Vistro December 14, 2017

KARACHI: Karachi-based writer Elsa Sajjad took it upon herself to create #MeToo, the play. The upcoming play was inspired by the recent viral hashtag #MeToo which provided women with a forum to share their sexual harassment experiences. The movement was powerful and raised awareness of how common yet stigmatised sexual harassment was, not just in Pakistani society but all over the world.

#MeToo has been created  in an effort to not let the debate die. The play follows the story of the Baig family, as told through the eyes of the recently engaged Marium Baig. It goes on to portray the whole family shocked by an incident of harassment within the family. The different reactions, opinions and coping mechanism are shown and analysed in this play - reminding us of our actions and attitude towards others’ matters. The play lasts for an hour and 45 minutes.

#MeToo was written and will be directed by Sajjad. This will be her third original score and the fourth play she’s directed in two years. It is produced by BlankPage Productions, founded by Moin Khan, Anushka Sajjad and Sajjad.

In conversation with The Express Tribune, Sajjad divulged some important details about her play.

ET: How did this idea come about?

Elsa Sajjad (ES): Sexual harassment has always been a rampant yet silent issue. However, the magnitude of the issue had never fully dawned upon me until the day I woke up the see my Facebook newsfeed flooded with posts by friends and family detailing how they too had been sexually harassed. It was one of the most unsettling sights I’d ever seen.

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That’s when I knew I had to do something. In my capacity as a writer, I decided the best idea would be to write a play in order to raise awareness and help people understand just how traumatising the experience can be. I also wanted to show how the situation is only made worse by stigmatising the issue.

I’ve always written satirical plays - people tend to underestimate how impactful and important theater as a medium is in inciting social change.

ET: How long did it take you to write this play?

ES: This play is personally very important to me and so I wanted to take my time with it. Writing the script was extremely emotionally difficult. Considering the sensitive nature of the play, it took around three months to write.

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ET: How did you prepare yourself for it?

ES: This is my fourth play in two years, yet no play has been significant as this one. Therefore, I’m extremely lucky to have been backed by my team in BlankPage Productions as they helped make sure everything was precisely tailored for me. From arranging photoshoots to choosing costumes, they handled it all.

ET: Can you tell us a little bit about the casting for the play? How did you go about choosing the actors?

ES: All the actors for the play are student volunteers. The cast is comprised of students from different shcools including Karachi Grammar School, The Lyceum, Beacon House and IBA. An event page was created announcing the auditions on Facebook and was made open to all. We were extremely impressed with the turnout and greatly appreciated the support. But, alas could only cast a select few.

When selecting actors, apart from their ability to perform, it was very crucial that they understood the play - its premise and the message it was trying to convey. It took over a month to finalise our cast however, the individuals we have lined up are talented and committed actors who I’m so honoured to be working with.

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ET: What do you hope to achieve out of this?

ES: The aim of the play is to draw attention to the perception of sexual harassment in society, how traumatic the experience can truly be for a person as well as to further encourage debate and discourse on the topic.We intend to donate a portion of the money the play raises to an NGO that advocates women’s rights in order to help in the fight against harassment.

The play will be held on January 10 and January 11 2018. Tickets will be available at Aghas supermarket or through contacting the BlankPage Productions Facebook page directly.

Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below.


faiqa iqtidar | 6 years ago | Reply hey! first of all i want to appreciate your efforts for this particular work. i must say that our society really needs this type of awareness. your play #MeToo will definitely bring some kind of knowledge and understanding regarding the sexual harassment, and victims will raise their voices against this abuse. All the best for your play. also, Blankpage production is doing the appreciable work for the society. and we hope that such type awareness campaign will be carrying on in future.
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