Monday, February 27, 2012

V For Vagina

Wow... Even i find it so hard to say the V word ( though this is the formal English term for female genitalia). And just imagine having to express the V word or better known as cibai in Hokkien for almost 2 hours .. Telling a story about it or trying to relate to it openly without sounding vulgarish, embarrased or put off by it. I am a mature adult of 21 (hehehe) but still I feel akward being asked to shout Cibai so loud and openly. Virgin gitew auwww...

Ticket with the complimentary pantiliner.
We had that priceless guffaw moment when Vincent came back with the tickets and lots of pantiliners along with it. I am sure he had seen sanitary pads, but pantiliners ... this might be new and ackward for him. I asked him ... "u pakai kah?"

Anyway kudos to the Neighbourhood Performance Group under the direction of Choong Seong Wei for nailing this very difficult topic about Understanding Cibai through their theater play named The Vagina Warriors in Penang Performing Arts Centre (Penangpac). Neighbourhood Performing Group may be the new kids on the block in our local performing arts scene but based on the group profile in the handouts, the group has been around since 30 August 2010, consists of members from various background including journalists, teachers, writers, theater performers, undergraduate students from all over Peninsular Malaysia and even Taiwan.

The Vagina Warriors was inspired by Eve Ensler's (a playwright and performing artist) The Vagina Monologues that deals with women's experience with sex, love, tenderness, embarassment, cruelty, pain and pleasure, also women empowerment, relating it to vagina. Eve Ensler interviewed over 200 women from different age groups and various backgrounds whom bared themselves about vagina to write the first draft of the monologues.

The Vagina Warriors by the Neighbourhood Performing Arts Group were written to explore and address these 9 issues:

(1) The taboo attached to vagina, and why the Hokkien Chinese swear and curse "cibai" so as to degrade or smear their opponent's reputation. The actors did question on why vulgarize the vagina and why vagina was deemed as filthy when it is a life giving organ.

(2) Menstruation - physilogically, superstitious beliefs and taboos attached to it. The actresses brilliantly expressed the dilemma faced by women in conservative society such as menstruating women as bad luck or excuse for the husbands to sleep with other women. The best part would be how they associated menstruation with women supernatural power, they can bleed so much but still not dead. Therefore men, fearing this superpower, banned women from doing religious activities or pantang this and that.

(3) Menstrual cycle - physiological and emotional aspect of it. I love the part when the actresses "talked" or shared their mentsrual experience .. When they first had it, "leakages" experiences, PMS, dilemma in getting MC when experiencing bad period pains, vaginal hygience and ordour problems, followed by development, usage and disposal management of sanitary pads and tampons hehehe. Best part was the roti parody ... The difference between sandwich bread for breakfast (regular pad for regular flow) ... Thin breadstick best with mushroom soup (pantiliner for vaginal discharge) and thick and long French loaf for night snack (long overnight pad for night protection).

(4) Rape - condemning the impact of war, racism and society in controlling, oppressing and forcibly victimising the female body. Tagline from this segment "Rape only needs an erected penis from a male, and he alone decides the move ... not the female for the vagina is not an enclosed organ"

(5) Clitoris - what is it? Why is it a forbidden area? Why was it such a taboo? The actresses also explore orgasm (why many women faking it to please their partner/husband), female masturbation and is a female yearning for a climax considered adulterous? Well to be honest, I was quite uneasy when the actresses were enggaged in "mild" lesbian act, panty pulling and the moaning sound in the background (mastubation). I like the line when "I don't want to turn 70 but still have to cycle" (some females reach orgasm through cycling oppssss).

(6) Female genital mutilation - the so called adulthood ritual cruelly practiced on young girls in Africa. Well, this was also graphic ... though not through their acting but the lines! I cringed on my seat when the actresses describe and relate to the genital mutilation stories.

(7) Virginity - a relook at the misconstrued coitus bleed of a virgin in light of possible physical injury or damage. Yes, this one I have to agree. Women nowadays are very active, many are also involved in physically challenging activities.

(8) "Women" who are born in a male body - exploring the transgenders yearned for womanhood and "what" that truly make them one. Had a great laugh when 2 actors went downstage and seduced some male audiences. Hehehe

(9) Childbirth - vagina as the exit and extension of life. A little contemporary dance movement to display labour pain and childbirth. This part was a bit touching and funny when the "mother" refered to nurses and "misi" and tell the story that she felt her baby want to come out but the doctor asked her to suck it in, her concern that her baby might drowned inside her if she couldn't deliver.

The Vagina Warriors played to a half-filled Stage 1 yesterday. Most were teenagers. Glad to see some blond, brunnettes and grey heads among the crowd hehehe. This is a local production and seeing that quite acceptable numbers of crowd, I couldn't help but feel proud. The younger generation of Penangites are so lucky. My siblings aged 32-24 tak pernah jejak kaki pun ke Istana Budaya.

I enjoyed the play so much, seriously though I have to swallow my embarassment on so many intimate issues that I would definitely won't share it openly with anyone, let alone another woman. However it was easier to understand and relate to compared to Someone Who'll Watch Over Me. They mixed their languages and dialects in this play - some lines were in English, Mandarin, Malay, Hokkien and Manglish. I find that was the strength of this play ... universal issues, the Malaysian way of interpreting it.
Looking forward to more plays from the Neigbourhood Performing Arts Group.


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails