It starts on Aya’s wedding day. Her third. In a society in which there are few women, that’s just what happens. But as the household prepares for the wedding feast, a stranger arrives – one who threatens to challenge everything they believe in.
The Husbands is an imaginative response to the real issue of female infanticide that has become widespread in rural India. Girls are often seen a drain on precious family resources whereas sons are seen as valuable assets, meaning that some girl babies are aborted or killed soon after birth. The result is a serious lack of young women and in some villages it’s becoming increasingly common for two men or more to share one wife. Sharmila Chauhan imagines a society where this has become the norm, weaving a moving tale of love, jealousy and power using vivid, poetic language to show this extraordinary but believable new world.
Sharmila comments “In parts of India, polyandry has become a necessity. I wrote The Husbands both as a response to this but also as an exploration of the complexities of love, intimacy and trust between one woman and three men.
“According to recent press reports, sex-selective abortions are being carried out in the UK today. In a sense this play is as much a warning as an allegory for the fate of women in The West today.”
According to research by the The Independent, Jan 2014, “The illegal abortion of female foetuses solely to ensure that families have sons is widely practised within some ethnic communities in Britain and has resulted in significant shortfalls in the proportion of girls. The practice of sex-selective abortion…has led to the “disappearance” of between 1,400 and 4,700 females from the national census records of England and Wales.”
Sharmila Chauhan was shortlisted for the Asian New Writer award and chosen for the Royal Court’s Critical Mass programme. Her short stories have been published online and in print, including Tell Tales Vol 2 and Happy Birthday to Me. She is also a pharmacologist so her work life mixes medicine, prose and plays.
The Husbands is directed by Janet Steel Artistic Director of Kali. Janet Steel has directed over 30 readings of new work and 11 productions for Kali. Her directing credits include Behzti (The Rep), April in Paris, Bretevski Street, A Hard Rain, Top Girls (Northampton Royal), Millennium Mysteries, Big School (Belgrade Coventry).
Creative Associate for The Husbands, Elizabeth Freestone has directed The Duchess of Malfi, Volpone, The School for Scandal, Dr Faustus (Greenwich), Romeo and Juliet (Globe tour), Here Lies Mary Spindler (RSC/Latitude), The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes (RSC/Wilton’s) and her adaptation of The Rape of Lucrece (RSC) premiered at the Edinburgh Festival last summer.
Kali and Pentabus Theatre
By Sharmila Chauhan
LONDON Soho Theatre Tue 11 – Sun 23 Mar, 7pm (Sat matinees 2.45pm)
Press Night: Wed 12 Mar, 7pm
Tickets £10 – £15
It’s Aya’s wedding day. Her third. Her current two husbands aren’t too fussed. In a society in which there are few women, that’s just what happens. But as the household prepares for the wedding feast, a stranger arrives – one who threatens to challenge everything they believe in. An explosive new play about love, jealousy and a woman’s right to choose.
Plymouth 12-15 February 7.45pm
Theatre Royal Drum Tickets £16 (£10 concs.)
Box Office: 01752 267222
Birmingham 22 February 8pm
mac Tickets £15 (£12 concs.)
Box Office 0121 446 3232
Leicester 25 February -1 March 7.45pm
Curve Tickets £10-£16
Box Office 0116 242 3595
Shrewsbury 4 March 7.30pm
Theatre Severn Tickets £14 (£12 concs.)
Box Office 01743 281281
Wolverhampton 5 March 7.30pm
Arena Theatre Tickets £12 (£10 concs.)
Box Office 01902 321321
Tewkesbury 6 March 7.30pm Tickets £12-£13
The Roses Theatre
Box Office 01684 295074
Ludlow 7 March 7.30pm
Assembly Rooms Tickets £12 (£10 concs.)
Box Office 01584 878141
London Soho Theatre Tue 11 – Sun 23 Mar, details above