‘Half a Cup Full’, a month-long play on breast cancer awareness in Hyderabad


Madhuri Dempsey in ‘Don’t Edit Me’

Madhuri Dempsey in ‘Don’t Edit Me’
| Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The flame of hope burns bright in October, the breast cancer awareness month, as the play Half a Cup Full tours Hyderabad. Staged across different venues by the city-based The Torn Curtains group, the 50-minute English play — with a smattering of Hindi — directed by Mala Pasha spreads the message that treating cancer patients right is crucial to battling the disease.

Madhu Swaminath, in ‘Don’t Edit Me’,  a vignette from ‘Half A Cup Full’

Madhu Swaminath, in ‘Don’t Edit Me’, a vignette from ‘Half A Cup Full’
| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

The play is delivered in two parts — ‘Don’t edit me…’ and ‘Goodbye’.

Don’t edit me… tells the story of four women in a breast cancer group. The constant communication helps the women bond and realise what they want and how they want to be treated. “Relatives and friends have kindness and good intentions but do not know how to treat the person suffering from a dreadful disease like cancer,” says Mala. The second part, Goodbye is the story of Mala’s close friend who underwent a mastectomy and how she made peace with her body and healed herself. “She lost the battle but won the war against cancer.”

Mala Pasha

Mala Pasha
| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

Half a Cup Full was first staged in 2010 when Mala was inspired by the strength with which her friend handled the tough phase. “My friend felt that women do not get mammograms done regularly, though it is the one thing that can change everything; if the disease is caught early, one need not have to lose the breast.”

A mix of open and ticketed show
Open shows (entry free)
Rangbhoomi Spaces October 4; 8 pm
Salar Jung museum October 10; 6 pm
Our Sacred Space October 12; 6 pm
Lamakaan October 17; 8 pm
Guruswamy Centre October 18; 7 pm
Ticketed show
Hyderabad Golf Club October 7; 8 pm; For Tickets: Kanhay +91 89775 12441
The Park October 14; 7 30 pm onwards for invitees
Lodha Meridian, a gated community in Kukatpally; 8 pm onwards only for invitees
The Torn Curtains team.

The Torn Curtains team.
| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

As part of the creative process, several cancer survivors were interviewed, and the play was staged in Hyderabad in the same year. Actress Devika Bhojwani, who was in the audience, invited the team to stage the play in Mumbai. “We performed in front of theatre greats like (late) Alex and Dolly Padamsee and Lillette Dubey. At the end, they hugged us and asked if the actors were cancer survivors. Their fabulous performance and this appreciation gave us the impetus to continue,” recollects Mala.

From then to 2013, the play had 40 performances in Hyderabad, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, and Delhi, plus a private performance in Portland USA. The actors have changed over the years except Madhuri Dempsey who plays Reena.

Shikha Gupta in ‘Goodbye’

Shikha Gupta in ‘Goodbye’
| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

While Niruthi Aggarwal wrote the initial draft, Mala rewrote the story. Mala has not been active in Hyderabad since the pandemic and took up this play after her friend suggested restarting the theatre field with the breast cancer awareness play. Mala recalls, “She said Hyderabad has many young people who have migrated from various cities. Cancer awareness is much needed and staging it now will have an impact.”

The blend of open and ticketed shows across Hyderabad is to spread awareness. “It has been a difficult but wonderful experience, says Mala, hoping the play strikes a chord. “A character in the play says, ‘My cousins don’t call me’ or a girl who has been married for a few years says, ‘My mother-in-law is looking to replace me and my husband says nothing.’ People going through a tough time need support. Communicate, talk to them and try to understand.”

Half a Cup Full by The Torn Curtains at multiple venues in Hyderabad



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