Silence the Court is on Session is written by a Marathi written by a renowned playwright Vijay Tendulkar. It was first performed in 1968, and was directed by Arvind Deshpande. It was performed by Rangayan, a Mumbai-based theatre group, but it was performed much later than it was written.
Vijay Tendulkar (7 January 1928–19May 2008) was not only one of the leading Indian playwrights of the late sixties, but also the radical political voices in Maharashtra. Apart from social issues, he also wrote on political aspects of contemporary society.
Tendulkar has become an important spokesperson for the downtrodden, weak and exploited masses including women. Even though he does not think he is a feminist, many of his plays talks about the position of women in Contemporary Society. Plays like Kamala (1981), Silence! The Court is in session (1967) The Vultured(1961) etc.
The role of Feminism In the play
The term Feminism denotes a movement in politics and aesthetics which deals with women’s rights and conscious struggles against the oppressive patriarchy. The origin of the word feminism came into the English language in the 1890’s and has progressed through different phases. The argument is explained in the oft comment is explained by the French Philosopher and novelist Simone De Beauvoir who wrote the book The Second Sex (1949). He quotes “One is not born, but rather becomes a women as society as a whole manipulates the process of ‘becoming.’
Tendulkar’s play is a critique of patriarchal values and shows how law operates as a device to silence the voices of women. The word “silence” in the title has a symbolic meaning. In a denotative sense, it means the judge’s order to maintain silence in court. But connotatively it implies silencing the weaker’ sex plead for justice.
The Role Of Leela Benare in the play
The play’s protagonist, Leela Benare is an unmarried teacher in her early thirties and a member of the cast of the Living Courtroom. Benare has been carrying on an affair with Professor Damle, another member of the cast; after she became pregnant, however, he cut her off. Benare has also recently been fired from her job, as her superiors view unmarried motherhood as sinful and worried she would somehow pass on her immorality to her students. Now, pregnant and unemployed, Benare is committed to figuring out a way to make a life for herself and her unborn child. She’s asked some of her courtroom collaborators, Ponkshe and Rokde, to marry her and help her raise her child, but has been rejected. She understands the stigma both she and her child will face if it is born without a father and worries about how to move forward. The stress Benare is under in her personal life comes to the surface when Kashikar jokingly charges her with infanticide during an improvised mock trial. Over the course of this trial Benare’s real troubles are brought to light, and her collaborators and ostensible friends take the opportunity to insult what they see as her loose, immoral, progressive lifestyle. At the end of the play, although her castmates collect themselves and try to tell her that her prosecution was just a game, Benare has been totally emotionally broken.