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LIVING DEAD GIRL
DIRECTOR: Marcia Peschke
CAST: a cast of 17 performers
VENUE: DUT Courtyard Theatre
AN ambitious offering, Living Dead Girl is a refreshingly relevant piece of theatre that finds itself on stage in an age of persistent violence against women.
Written and directed by Marcia Peschke, the play is penned as a collection of monologues, poetry and short satirical sketches that unpack and analyse aspects of abuse, violence and prejudice against girls and women.
The beauty of this piece is that it doesn’t impose a particular view or solution to the problem of violence against women, but just puts it out there.
Through a series of conversations with the audience we are introduced to women and men from different backgrounds. A young woman trapped in a cycle of sex and bride trafficking (where women are sold mainly to foreigners); a girl raped throughout her childhood; a child-bride scarred after an acid attack for trying to flee her husband; a transgender person sympathetic to the plight of women – these are just some of the stories we hear.
On the opposite end of the scale the audience is introduced to characters who are symbolic of real-life personalities and patriarchal systems that continue to keep women bound. Men who think that rape is “just free sex”; the legal and judicial systems’ disregard for proper process and due diligence when dealing with abuse and sex crimes; religious systems that still view women as lesser citizens.
But these girls and women are not portrayed entirely as victims. By voicing their discontent with the status quo and declaring they are “no longer underground” – these “victims” release themselves, taking charge of their own freedom.
These monologues leave you considering these issues differently. It was therefore exciting for me to watch Living Dead Girl in the presence of a group of varsity students. Amongst them were a bunch who repeatedly laughed at some of the rape scenes and whistled during the transgender monologues. Their reactions offered much insight into how backward we still are as a society and the threat this poses to our future. But it was a good thing that they were in the audience because it’s those mindsets that need to be changed.
The show includes a Q&A session at the end when these issues are discussed.
The cast deserve kudos for their performances and focus in the face of the mentioned reactions. Mayenziwe Zuma (who portrays a child rape victim and child bride); Sweetness Ngobese (who plays a sex- and bride-trafficked victim) and Kagisho Tsimakwane (who plays the transgender person and chauvinist characters of a judge, a man who owns a trafficked bride) all gave impactful performances.
The use of a minimal set and costumes (Peschke and Wesleigh Thomas Hall) means the play could be set anywhere, even your neighbourhood, making it more relevant.
At times, however, the dialogue was lost in the pronunciation and projection, particularly the faster-paced banter and the switch to song.
It was sad that there were so many empty seats because these are the productions we should see.
• Tickets cost R35. No under-16s. For bookings call Lebohang Sibisi at 031 373 2194.