Based on the daily struggles of the Trans community, ‘Stories Forgotten to Tell’ is a play performed by a community of transwomen, the Dwayah Foundation in Kerala, narrating the social biases, bitter experiences and stigma the community face routinely.

With a stellar cast from the community including actresses, makeup artists, models, dancers and activists like Sheetal Shyam, Renju Renjimar, Harini Chandhana and others, the team began their theatrical journey with this play in January last year.

Since then their caravan has travelled to prominent art festivals like the International Theatre Festival Kerala, the Serendipity Festival in Goa, and the National Theatre Festival in Karnataka, performing the play to critical acclaim.

‘Stories Forgotten to Tell’ picks up current issues like Trans entry into Sabarimala, Section 377, the Kochi metro project and numerous other personal anecdotes of harassment at the hands of institutionalised bodies like the police, doctors, shopkeepers and the general public. A satirical production, it subtly yet powerfully mocks society.

“Since the beginning of our journey, things have been changing with time. It is a way to express how to fight and survive in this society with dignity,” said Ananya, a transgender makeup artist.

The play is the scene of mature acting, the performers’ vivacious and bold demeanour, puns and humor, a strong chorus and an interplay of lights all of which override language barriers with zeal. The characters also provide accounts of their hopes and aspirations, their little joys in life that give them a sense of belongingness and security within the realm of this harsh reality.

Preparing the set before a performance at the Mahatma Gandhi University in Kerala

Harini Chandhana before performance

Co-founder of Dwayah and the play’s protagonist Renju Renjimar offering prayers as a prelude to performance

Renju donning the character of the primary deity goddess of their community, and performing an aggressive dance

Renju donning the character of the primary deity goddess of their community, and performing an aggressive dance

From the mythical scene where the deity goddess curses the doctor who refuses to attend to medical problems of the Trans community

The goddess resembling enraged Kali, goddess of power, strength and rage

Police misbehaving with transwomen when they complain about being harassed

Recreation of scene where four transwomen were denied entry into Sabarimala and were heckled by police, being allowed in only after much difficulty

Vignettes showing different stories of transwomen and their plight

Scene showing self-empowering activities like a fashion parade for upcoming models and stylists to realise the dreams of transpersons

A still showing their realisation of femininity through acts like embracing feminine clothes, wearing makeup, and donning a womanhood that goes beyond heteronormative notions

Renjimar taking over the stage with her dynamic energy and monologue as the audience senses the naked truth

Sheetal Shyam and Renchamba in a lyrical posture expressing unison in unbounded, unconditional love

Renchambha stricking an ecstatic pose in dancer’s attire, as she aspires to be one in real life too