‘Ovaryacting!’ is the story of a young girl (actually, every girl) who goes out in search of answers when she encounters that special new friend in her life: her period. Directed by Piumi Wijesudara for Methodist College, the play was staged for a second time recently after winning the award for Best Play at the [...]


Getting behind the taboo. Period.

Director Piumi Wijesundara’s production ‘Ovaryacting’ addresses the subjects surrounding the issues that girls and women face when menstrual health issues come to the fore

‘Ovaryacting!’ is the story of a young girl (actually, every girl) who goes out in search of answers when she encounters that special new friend in her life: her period. Directed by Piumi Wijesudara for Methodist College, the play was staged for a second time recently after winning the award for Best Play at the 33rd Inter School Drama Competition. This week, we spoke to Piumi about the play and how it went from a daring concept to a groundbreaking finish.

A scene from the play. Pix Courtesy Marissa Van Eyck

Piumi Wijesundara is a producer, actor and director working with Stages Theatre Group, led by artistic director Ruwanthie De Chickera. She got her start in theatre while in school, after which she studied it at undergraduate level and now her Masters in Theatre Directing. She has since produced and acted in several theatre productions, some of which were staged at International Festivals.

In 2017, she co-directed the winning production of Methodist College at the Royal Inter-school Drama Competition, and has since been directing Methodist College for the same competition in the following years, both of which came out as the Best Plays.

It was this opportunity working with the young all-girl cast at Methodist College that got her thinking about “addressing issues that girls and women face in our society.” Piumi tells us that an issue that became most prevalent in their minds was the stigma and shame around periods.

Once menstruation became the subject of the play, the internalised shame and stigma reared its ugly head and Piumi saw “many eyes roll, right to the back of peoples’ heads” as people backed out. However, Piumi and the girls took it on as their passion project.

“It’s important that we as girls and women initiate the conversation to normalize periods if no one else was going to do it for us.” she says.

Piumi tells us that the play was devised with the students through a series of interviews the cast themselves conducted amongst friends, teachers, family members and others on their take on female menstruation.

“Essentially, we couldn’t decide whether it was people’s reactions to the questions or their answers to them that fascinated us more.” Piumi explains. “Some people listened, some were oblivious, and some pretty much made a run for it the moment they heard ‘bleeding women’ or “period!”

In addition to this, they also did their research into the topic of menstruation, and conducted group writing sessions. This not only served to finalised the play itself, but also became their first step in breaking the period stigma.

“We had breakthroughs in cast members who were initially queasy themselves to openly discuss this subject who grew bold enough to do so in front of a massive crowd of girls,” Piumi tells us with pride.

‘Ovaryacting!’ addresses the lack of education and hysteria in society that surrounds menstrual cycles, which is quite simply a biological process upon which the existence and propagation of our entire species depends on.

“And yet,” explains Piumi, “we are unwilling, or afraid to talk about it… Women on their periods are regarded as ‘unclean’ or ‘impure’ or emotional. And this is what the play seeks to address.”

She adds that in the play through the eyes of a confused thirteen year old girl, they aim to show how reluctance to give proper menstrual education can have dire, harmful repercussions.


Familiar scenes like commanding clans of grandmothers and aunties, skipping the chapter on reproduction in school, and the sign language to request a pad during an emergency hit home for female audience members. It also aims to include men in the conversation, when they see what the women in their lives go through.

To open up what society thinks is a taboo subject, Piumi says “the trick is to not accuse anyone or make blaring statements in defence. I think the trick is to start that conversation; initiate that conversation; find our meeting point and start actually educating.”

Despite initial uneasiness, the first staging at the Lionel Wendt at the semi-finals of the 33rd Inter School Drama Competition brought in positive feedback, with young boys striving to educate themselves and many others breaking their self-censorship to be open up about their periods.

‘Ovaryacting!’ was the winner of the competition, which told them something important.

“If we were ready to initiate the conversation to normalize periods, there will be an audience to accept and engage in this conversation: girls and boys alike,”says Piumi. This is also what led them to stage the play again, this time followed by a panel discussion which brought in Dr. Sanath Lanerolle from Castle Street Hospital for Women to educate from a medical practitioner’s standpoint; Manisha Dissanayake from the Arka Initiative who highlighted ground realities, and one of the cast members who openly discussed the issues faced by school-going girls due to lack of proper awareness and shaming.

For Piumi, the message of the play boils down to the fact that nobody should be afraid of their periods. “Educate yourself. Educate others. You’re normal. Don’t let this hold you back in life. Period.”

Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.