Monologues of Celebration

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A Review By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The Warehouse Theatre in Windhoek was pulsing, vibrating, raving, crying, retaliating, and gushing self-affirmation when the Vagina Monologues re-appeared on stage last Friday evening. Despite living in a time of unprecedented information-sharing where many believe that all mysteries have been demystified and all secrets revealed, the female genitalia and women’s sexuality still remain unclear. For the fourth time since the show started in Namibia, the Vagina Monologues have been viewed by many as revolutionary, provoking and eye-opening entertainment with a bold step towards encouraging women to appreciate themselves and who they are. “Vaginas, there is a lot of secrecy and darkness surrounding them. At first, it sounds like an instrument, an infection, and so unsexy. Women shy away from talking about them yet they secretly and deeply want to talk about them,” actress Sampa Wilkie said candidly. The Vagina was the word last Friday evening, a word resounded proudly throughout the show as Wilkie and Frieda Karipi stepped soundlessly into the lives of different women from across the globe, to share the latter’s experiences, or lack thereof, with their vaginas. As they stepped on stage and before they could say a word, the audience in the hall burst excitedly, clapping in time and eager to hear what the two actresses had to offer. In no time, they were each able to slip quietly into the roles required to interpret each piece: the intelligent, introspective and refreshingly witty women. In one role, Sampa was challenged to be the young, at first, innocent girl whose “illegal” seduction by an older woman (lesbian) was sadly, some might say, her only opportunity to love her “coochi snorcher”, and therefore herself. This ability of the actresses to abandon self and remain inconspicuous when necessary was transferred to their staging of the monologues. The actresses were wonderfully convincing in their “roles”, and their voice, accent and movement greatly strengthened the credibility of the monologues being related. In their roles, Wilkie was bright, funny, sexy and intelligent in her performance, while Frieda was shy yet endearing, amusing and greatly credible in her recital. However, I feel that due to the duration of the play (almost 90 minutes) an interval would have been appropriate to allow people to rest their minds from the heavy content of the work. The audience’s favourite for the evening, however, was Sampa’s interpretation of “how women in different parts of the world respond when the river flows”. Indeed, this monologue climaxed with a demonstration of various moans, including the “Oshiwambo moan”. Something else that also bothered me was the fact that the play evolved too passively with the two actresses too chair-bound. Some movements in role-playing could have worked wonders. Another highlight of the evening that evoked gasps and later silence from the audience was a vivid account of the rape and genital mutilation of women in some parts of the continent. All in all, the monologues solidified a dual message: that women’s sexual expression and awareness is to be celebrated amongst themselves, but also that it is time they treated and loved their “coochi snorcher” with all their hearts. It has been for too long that society has undermined womanhood and needless to mention, civilization.