skip navigation

A Voice For Every Girl: Emotional Creature in South Africa (The Mercury - South Africa)

Originally published in:
The Mercury - South Africa

A voice for every girl . . .

By Kgomotso Moncho

Eve Ensler’s I Am An Emotional Creature, running at the Market Theatre Lab, is a workshopped production, but it seems ready. It has come together so well with powerful and exciting performances from the girls and Ensler’s strong text.

Based on the book of the same name, the play is a composition of fictional monologues and anecdotes informed by girls all over the world and touching on issues from eating disorders to genital mutilation. These stories give girls a voice and encourage them to question their situations instead of succumbing to pleasing everybody.

Walking into the Lab, you are met with a circular stage, parts of it adorned by brightly coloured graffiti representing a youthful spirit. Behind is a screen depicting girl facts such as: “Most five-year-olds would rather break an arm than be fat” or “Barbie is inspired by a German doll called Lolli which was used by men as a sex toy”.

The music, directed by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder, is a mix of soft pop and dance, which reflects and matches the energy of its target audience. There were several high school pupils and teens at the sold-out show. Some came with their parents and the play can be the ice-breaker between parents and teens who struggle to communicate. The minister of health recently revealed that some teens have about three abortions in six months, so more of them should see this show.

The direction uses the sounds and images that flow through and around teens every day to tap into the personalities of the performers. And this is exactly what was in American director Jo Bonney’s vision when they started working on the production.

But it’s the seven girls, five of whom are South African, who make the show what it is. Zimbabwean Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa and American Molly Houlahan were pre-cast. Antoinette Kayembe, Samukelisiwe Khumalo, Ratanang Mogotsi, Charmian Bonnet and Karabo Tshikudu were cast from high schools in Gauteng with the help of Gina Shmukler, who’s one of the producers of this South African production.

With their raw talent they take Ensler’s text and make it their own. They sincerely embody the joy and complexities of being a teen and that makes the experience organic.

The allure of an Ensler script is that no matter how provocative and bold, it always carries a celebratory tone. And this is a celebration of a girl revolution in flight.

I Am An Emotional Creature is at the Market Theatre Lab until July 29.