Ensler's 'Emotional Creature' Starts Off in India

Friday, November 20, 2009

Eve Ensler's new play, "I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Lives of Girls," just had its global debut in India. Some audience members found it to be preachy, but others said it fit the times.

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Pooja Ruparel in Eve Ensler's new playMUMBAI, India (WOMENSENEWS)--In her new play "I am an Emotional Creature: ,"The Secret Lives of Girls," which had its world premiere here on Nov. 12, playwright and activist Eve Ensler provides a global stage for the oppression faced by girls worldwide.

Along with monologues by one U.S. girl coping with peer pressure and another suffering anorexia, there is an Israeli girl who refuses the draft; a Kenyan girl who escapes genital mutilation; and a Chinese girl who makes Barbies in a factory.

Another story in the play, which was performed in the 1,000-seat Tata Theatre, focuses on an Iranian girl who is forced into plastic surgery. It uses black humor to criticize the pressure on girls to be pretty.

In the play's most poignant monologue, a survivor of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo introduces her "Guide to Surviving Sex Slavery." (Rule 1: Get over that girl thing that this can't be happening to me. Rule 2: Don't look at him when he is raping you. Rule 3: Don't call him by his name. Say "Hey you." Or "Move over.")

In the monologue "My Short Skirt," three girls in short skirts sassily denounce men who think they are "asking for it."

"My Short Skirt" drew loud applause from the crowd of mostly women and men in their 30s and 40s. It was a full house, as the play received much national press in advance.

Mixed Reviews

Some of the young members of the audience were harsh critics of the play, which won't run again until the release of Ensler's book of the same title in February 2010.

"I thought the play was too preachy," said Priyal Shah, a college student.

"It wasn't hard-hitting, just repetitive," said Manisha Dutt, a banker and mother in her 30s. "I didn't feel anything for any of the characters. Anguish just comes across better when it's not over the top."

The play got mixed reviews in the press. The Hindustan Times, a national newspaper, gave it a negative review saying, "The play attempts to make a point, but gets nowhere. The stories fail to touch your heart, functioning only as evidence of some sort. Shocking is confused with moving." However, the Web site, which is run by a national newspaper group, said "This play is a must-watch, and not just for the girls."

Some audience members also gave the play their support.

"In Mumbai, we have become so immune to violence against women that we just ignore it," said Vinita Kamath, an audience member in her 30s. "We need to be aware of what's happening around us, not just in Mumbai but also in the Congo or Palestine."

"The monologue set in Mumbai was especially real", said Sunila Pethe of a monologue in which two Muslim girls talk about the restrictions on their lives. "Men everywhere in India have the final word, but it's especially so in the Muslim community."

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