You get tickets to a theatre performance, it is based on a renowned and well-known princess’s story. You are excited, you take your seat, the play commences and the princess makes her entrance. You realize that it is played by a plus-size actress and something inside you squirms.
That right there, lads and ladies, is how we are a product of body stereotyping and typecasting.
There is no denying it, and you will be fooling yourself if you think that it doesn’t happen as often as it does. If you are a regular patron of theatre plays and related art forms, you will be well aware of how there are very particular roles handed out to plus-size actors: the maidservant, the jolly policeman, the old king, the clown, you get the drift.
So to break all these stereotypes and to end this cycle of typecasting, the next obvious thing to do was for a group of plus-size actors to come together and say “Okay, stop right there.”
And that is what happened when one afternoon in Bangalore, one such group came together to perform and act out their experiences of being “fat”.
And as a man enacted his struggle to break free from the voices telling him to change how he leads his life, as a woman acted out her dilemma of being caught between eating some chocolate ice cream, what was born was a movement of sorts – and the birth of Big Fat Company.
The theatre company that is the brainchild of Anuradha Rao, a corporate trainer-turned-theatre professional, wants to not only change the way plus size actors, like herself, are approached in play acting but also create a space for them to share, open up and find and create opportunities that break free from what they are always offered on the basis of their size.
“We want to change the way plus-size actors are approached, cast, and the way they are given less attention as performers compared to someone who conforms to society’s beauty norms,” Anuradha told ScoopWhoop.
“We have started the workshops, and are yet to start productions. We are planning to open a performance piece in the next 6 months,” she added.
Body shaming is not something that any of us are unfamiliar with.
It is being talked about a lot more than it was even a couple of years back, and that is great. Like anything problematic that needs to be talked about for change to be brought, body shaming is one of the top things whether it is in Bollywood, Hollywood, Theatre, or everyday life.
But India still has a long way to go.
All this and more has been faced by the members of the Big Fat Company. Which is why they want to change the way things are approached.
They want there to be a moment where when you see a plus-size Rapunzel on the stage, your heart skips a beat, only in a good way.