The trauma of rape

Writer-director-lead actress Edith Podesta (above) plays a survivor of rape in Leda And The Rage.
Writer-director-lead actress Edith Podesta plays a survivor of rape in Leda And The Rage.PHOTO: ESPLANADE - THEATRES ON THE BAY

All performances of Edith Podesta's new play are interpreted in sign language.

This comes from a desire to include different audiences, but also stems from the trauma experienced by the lead character in Leda And The Rage.

The play is about a survivor of rape dealing with post-traumatic stress. Writer-director-lead actress Podesta, 38, says: "Hands speak faster than the brain. They speak a truth (the character) can't articulate because she is divorced from the body."

Leda And The Rage ends the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay's The Studios season. The play runs from April 26 to 29. Commissioned and produced by The Esplanade, it is a work which required challenging and often nauseating research on the part of Podesta.

It involved looking at Greek mythology - the play takes its title from the story of Leda, who was coerced into a sexual encounter by the god Zeus in the form of a swan - as well as contemporary studies on sexual aggression and the use of rape in war.

She notes that myths involving Zeus are portrayed as seduction even when the story makes it clear that the female resisted the male aggressor.

Veteran theatre-maker Jeremiah Choy joins her on stage, playing a therapist. "He's intelligent, older, can be seen to be understanding about the underbelly of life and not be about sex," says Podesta, linking actor and character.

It was important to have a male voice in the work, she adds. "The work is questioning the myths we have about rape and the questions have to come from both sides."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2018, with the headline 'The trauma of rape'. Print Edition | Subscribe