Theatre Royal Stratford East presents The House of In Between, the untold story of the Hijra. The House of In Between follows the lives of a Hijra clan, a family trying to make their way through modern India, while maintaining their culture, traditions, beliefs and values. Written by Sevan K. Greene and directed by Pooja Ghai, TRSE’s Associate Director, the show unveils the secret lives of this community through humour, wit and passion.
The story follows Uma – the leader of a Hijra clan – a tough, caring but charming opportunist who is desperate to uphold the traditions of the Hijras challenged by contemporary society’s increasing demands to modernise and join the global economy. But when the mysterious Dev arrives, Uma sees a chance to erase the sins of the past and ensure the clan’s survival. Will Uma’s act of charity destroy the clan and will Dev fulfil a destiny no one expected?
Although some are intersexed, Hijras are generally born with male physiology. Some choose to undergo a rite called nirvaan which involves removal of the male genitalia.
Writer Sevan K. Greene said: “I was inspired to write a piece that gave voice to this marginalised group whose stories have been hidden yet resonate so loudly with me with their need to hold on to the past while being slowly razed by the present. Third genderism is a tricky concept so instead of trying to be scientific, I want an audience to understand the Hijra tradition through a very specific clan. All families argue, fight, love, defend, laugh and survive and through this connection I can make the unfamiliar familiar. My goal was to create a visceral play that tickles you one moment and rips your heart out the next.”
Pooja Ghai, Associate Director of TRSE said: “Hijras have been around for over 4,000 years and have played an important part in the cultural and societal make-up of India. At the time of the Moghul Empire they were revered, now in 2016 they are a part of the underclass and are both feared and deeply misunderstood. I was fascinated by the demise and impending eradication of this group of people, who have always believed they were bestowed with divine qualities, living a life as neither male or female, but as a third gender. Sevan’s beautifully written play is a story about family, hope, despair, unity and love – that takes us on a rollercoaster of a ride leaving us spellbound.”
Sevan K. Greene is a London and NYC-based playwright-actor. Member of the Bush Theatre inaugural 2015 Emerging Writers Group; The Public Theater 2011 Emerging Writers Group; Rising Circle Theatre Collective 2010 InkTANK Writer’s Lab. NYTW 2011/2012 Teaching Artist. William Saroyan 2010 & 2012 Playwriting Prize Finalist. PlayPenn 2012 & 2013 Conference Finalist. 2011 ATC New Voices Festival Winner. 2014 Papatango Short List. 2014/2015 Princess Grace Award Semi-Finalist. 2014 Saroyan Human Rights Social Justice Playwriting Prize Finalist. 2014 Saroyan Armenian Commendation Prize Finalist. Sevan’s work has been seen in London and New York at The Bush Theatre, Theatre503, Rich Mix, The Old Red Lion, The Public Theatre, The Flea Theatre, 2014 Camden Fringe, The Space, NOOR Theatre, Access Theatre, Birmingham Theatre Exchange. www.sevangreene.com
Pooja Ghai is the new Associate Director at TRSE and is making her directorial debut on the main stage. Other credits include Selfie Rules, Rugged Rock (Angelic Tales), Home Theatre, Guess Who’s Coming and assistant director of The Infidel The Musical. Other directing credits include Tamasha 25, Shakti & Seva and Mother India (Rich Mix), As You Like It (Ellen Terry Theatre), The Accordion Shop (Leicester Curve),The Tune is Always Better on the Outside, Oysters, Mirad a Boy from Bosnia (The Bedford) and The Difference (Soho & Rich Mix).
The House of In Between runs from Friday 8 April–Saturday 30 April 2016.