Renowned actress Flora Suya is set to star in a Vagina Monologues production to be staged at Lilongwe Wildlife Centre outdoor theatre on September 12.
Suya, who is currently working on her own film and has starred in Shemu Joyah’s award winning movies Seasons of a Life and The Last Fishing Boat, confirmed the development yesterday.
She said she is happy to participate in the production which will offer her a new challenge.
“It’s a new challenge actually. I have been given a new role in which I will be reciting poems. I have never recited poems before and so this is why I am saying this is a new challenge for me,” said the actress.
According to a press release from Blackmore Creatives, the Vagina Monologues production is coming back into the fold following the success of the first performance.
The statement says the play, created by Eve Ensler and has been adapted by Blackmore Creatives, begun as a one woman play with a series of monologues highlighting different aspects of womanhood ranging from sex to love, tenderness, embarrassment, cruelty, pain, and pleasure.
As the show increased in popularity, it began to be performed by an ensemble of actresses.
After the first run in New York, politically active theatres and college campuses began producing the Monologues, all of which helped to launch a global movement known as V-Day.
V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness and generate broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls.
“Blackmore’s localised production of the monologues explores the experiences of women, ranging from menstruation, sex, gender-based violence, sexual harassment, identity and childbirth. The play is bold, comedic and it’s also sad,” said Zilanie Nyundo, director of the play.
She further added:
“We adapted a number of the monologues from the original script because we wanted to contextualise our own truths. We also wrote our own new monologues to shed light on things that are happening but people are sadly reluctant to talk about and change. We cannot and should not condone abuse under the guise of culture.”
Nyundo said they were happy to have Suya on board on the cast for this special show.
The production, which has a cast of 11 people, premiered on June 13, 2015 at the same venue.
However, despite the play being taken to the stage, the Censorship Board, which issues permits for performances, has not granted a permit for the production.
According to Nyundo, the Censorship Board’s latest response to certify the play for general public performance was the same as earlier communicated in June 2015 that the play is dominated by explicit obscene references.
She said the request has been sent to the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture for review.
“Particularly because of the culture of silence, we strongly believe certain things need to be said and heard – advocacy through theatre is our chosen form of expression. It is unfortunate that the Censorship Board regulations are archaic, limited about what constitutes artistic expression. Therefore, the show will go on,” said Nyundo.
Censorship Board boss Humphreys Mpondaminga said they did not issue the permit and reserved the right to do so because of the explicit obscene references in the play.
“We left this in their own hands but we did not approve it. We reserved the right to classify it. The play to us has obscene material and at first they hinted that they are communicating issues to do with gender and yet there is obscene material. Our advice was let them do that by conducting workshops but not through a stage play,” said Mpondaminga.
With the play going ahead according to Nyundo, asked if their are not approving the production meant stopping the performance, Mpondaminga said Censorship Board is not there to police or stop people from holding performances but to give advice and not banning.
“Although the Classification Act is yet to be finalised, as Censorship we are avoiding censorship but rather we are there to classify and give advice and this is what we have started doing,” he said.
Nyundo said the show not only aims to enlighten but also to raise funds for the production and distribution of reusable sanitary kits for girls in schools.
Apart from Suya, the play has a cast of Sharmila Elias, Sarah Lindeire, Thokozani Fortunata Mkawa, Chisomo Nthinda, Sarah Rawson and guest appearances from Nyundo, Samantha Nampuntha, Veronica Chagunda and Pauline Makutu.
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