Eve Ensler’s Emotional Creature – rites of passage

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Emotional Creature” is about the rites of passage of young teens, trite though it all may be at this point, based on the bestseller book of the same name in 2010. What’s it like growing up, learning about sex, engaging in sex, becoming pregnant, hearing the age old “my parents don’t understand me.” The play with music and video backdrops is directed by Jo Bonney and is debuting in New York at the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at The Pershing Signature Center on West 42nd Street.

The strength of this production lies in the multi-cultural exchanges and monologues and the different, yet similar, references that face young girls throughout the world. For some, however, it can be more shocking when they are victims of rape, incest and cultural female clitoral circumcision. Their joys and excitement in rites of passage become extraordinarily devastating.

And, times have changed in that the current generation no longer plays by the rules I did growing up in the 50’s. Sex is open, everyday and blatant, worries about HIV a common occurrence, pregnancy – oh well, that’s the way it is. If you’re a lesbian, that’s OK too, for you, but maybe not your parents?

This group of talented gals tell their stories and secrets through song and dance moves. They’re locked in the need to feel accepted, they practice celebrity worship and must be thin, thin, thin and pretty. But they conform, all the same, to their own set of rules. This is a worldwide phenomenon. They talk about defying and resisting, about breaking taboos, about wearing short skirts and that it has nothing to do with you! But they seem to always come across as wanting to please, to fit in, to not suffer the pangs of rejection. Maybe it’s the way the female is inherently made – biologically to seek and attract a male counterpart, to procreate and continue life.

There are some very serious stories, the girl from the Congo who is enslaved and raped for 2 years, becoming pregnant and eventually escaping; the humorous message of conformity as told by the 15 year old Chinese girl who works in a factory making Barbie doll heads. She sends her thoughts into the plastic heads – imagine if Barbie went from makeover to takeover – free Barbie, she’s needy, greedy and others control her. There’s the anger and confusion of the young girl who comes to talk to God on the mountaintop in Tanzania, escaping the abusive ritual of female circumcision.

The mantra: “You can imprison us but you can never touch our inner freedom.” Female empowerment! They walk the walk, talk the talk, but in the end the tune is the same: I’ve gotta be me – me –me. Yes, it’s all about ME!

Kudos to an energetic and animated cast: Ashley Bryant, Molly Carden, Emily S. Grosland, Joaquina Kaukango, Sade Namei, Olivia Oguma – all emotional creatures.

The scenic and costume design is by Myung Hee Cho, music by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder, with choreography by Luam and video projection design by Shawn Sagady.

Photo: Carol Rosegg

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