A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer 2014

19 Tory St, Wellington

24/04/2014 - 26/04/2014

93KP Theatre, 93 Kelburn Parade, Wellington

28/04/2014 - 30/04/2014

Production Details

Raising Funds for Wellington Women’s Refuge and Shakti Wellington 

VDay movement facilitates performances around the world which speak out against rape and violence against women. “A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer” (MMRP) picks up where “The Vagina Monologues” left off – exploring the humour, honesty and power of the individual in the face of an uncomfortable subject. New Zealand in particular has a culture of silence around these all too familiar problems. MMRP gives us the opportunity to combat that culture, and to respect those who bravely refuse to be silent.

“A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer” is just that – brave. This show meets you where you sit and encourages you to engage, respond and switch on your sensitivities. You will not merely stand witness. You will not leave unmoved by these thrilling, poignant stories of personal significance.

The Clitlective – Wellington’s freshest feminist theatre collective – invite you to come and share with us. Share in these rich explorations of grief and victory by many well-known dramatists and writers. Share in the confessions, declarations and testimonies. Most importantly join with us to support the marvellous work of the Wellington Women’s Refuge and the Shakti Ethnic Women’s Support Group Wellington.

Season One: 19 Tory Street – 24th, 25th, 26th April – 7:30pm

Season Two: 93 Kelburn Parade – 28th, 29th, 30th April – 7:30pm

Tickets: $15/$10 Concession, pay on the door by cash only.

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Powerful and moving in parts but could be structured better

Review by Phoebe Smith 25th Apr 2014

Powerful and moving in parts but could be structured better

A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer is a collection of monologues written by a variety of authors and compiled by Eve Ensler. V Day is an event that happens all over the world that creates performances from a selection of these monologues, or from any of Ensler’s work to raise money for charities.

The Clitlective’s production of A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer, staged at 19 Tory St Wellington as part of V Day, comprises of nine separate pieces, each of which deal subtly – or, in most cases, not so subtly – with the inequality of gender and the abuse, largely sexual, of women.

We begin with ‘I Can’t Wait’ directed by Julia Campbell and performed by Deborah Eve Rea. While seemingly blunt and droll, this script is one of the production’s subtler pieces in terms of its exploration of inequality and abuse toward women. Using subtext, metaphor and humour it makes more finer points than it blatantly extols. Rea performs the monologue with energy and a formidable use of ironic asides.

While occasionally a little fast and reminiscent of an inspirational speaker, for the most part Rea is hitting the right notes, prompting appreciative laughter from the audience. We can’t know this yet, but these are to be almost the only laughs to be had all evening.  

The next two monologues see Ania Upstill directing Helen McIntyre in ‘First Kiss’ and Alida Steemson directing Thomas Pepperell in ‘Untitled’. The first explores, in a simple and direct style, the failure to communicate and the shame of a woman’s first abuse experience. The second explores the notion of guilt and degrees of responsibility in a piece that can potentially be stronger if Pepperell’s nerves can be contained. 

Fourth up we have the only non-monologue of the evening. ‘My House is Wallpapered with Lies’, directed by Campbell and featuring Cathy-Ellen Paul, Etta Bollinger and Emma Rose Luxton, is a little confusing. I am genuinely unsure if the three women are separate characters or if they are three different aspects of one. I am also unsure whether or not we are supposed to know. The actresses are playing children and unfortunately overdo it at times – particularly in the case of Luxton’s character – giving an overall hammy effect.

The next three monologues see Steemson direct Tim Brown in ‘Rescue’, Campbell direct Upstill in ‘The Aristocrats’ and Upstill direct Susannah Donovan in ‘The Next Fantastic Leap Forward’.

Brown is a pleasure to watch. He is natural, attentive to the script and has a lovely voice. He does, however, have a tendency toward a slam-poet-style delivery and the piece feels as though it takes an overly long time to make a fairly singular statement. Upstill is confident and direct and presents a clear message.

By this stage in the production, though, there is a distinct feeling of being told what to think rather than being shown some action or some truths. Donovan’s expressive delivery of her poetic piece is possibly charming but it is hard to tell because of its placement.

It is at this point that I simply have to note how extremely uncomfortable I am. And no, I do not mean that I am feeling psychologically battered by watching a succession of monologues about rape. As there are no programmes I have no way of gauging how many more pieces there are to go and the chair I am sitting on –chosen by me as its position afforded good sightlines – seems to have been designed for a new entrant class room. We’ve all had cramp in a theatre, but this is ridiculous. 

I harp on this because of its reflection on the second-to-last performer. Considering my state of (first-world) agony, the fact that Hilary Penwarden (performing ‘Blueberry Hill’ and directed by Alida Steemson) wholly draws me in to the world of her monologue is rather astounding. Her performance of this piece, which is the evening’s most blatantly descriptive of first-hand rape or attempted rape, is compelling, raw and heartfelt. This monologue is genuinely moving and powerful and Penwarden is an actress to watch. 

Finally we have Jacquie Fee directed by Ania Upstill in ‘In Memory of Immette’. Fee performs with a vitality and humour that is cheated by the placement of her piece. Were this monologue situated in a different place amongst the others it could have served well to allow the audience a chance to laugh and to buck us up.

A more conscious dramaturgical effort on the part of the three directors would make this production a great deal more effective. Little notice appears to have been taken of the need for the pieces to work together as a 70 minute production. Greater consideration of the order of the monologues could make a big difference to the overall effect.

This reviewer found herself struggling with the implicit sexism of the work as a whole. The Clitlective describe themselves as “A Wellington feminist collective dedicated to producing thought-provoking, boundary-pushing, ass-kicking theatre and promoting equality for all genders.” Many of these pieces explicitly or implicitly refer to men as the rapists and women as the rapees. There are no examples of pieces that explicitly break the ‘norm’ of heterosexual woman abused by heterosexual man. Perhaps a broader brush or conversely a finer eye to detail could avoid some alienation in the work.

The Clitlective are producing and performing with actors and non-actors for worthy charities including Shakti Women’s Refuge, Wellington Women’s Refuge, and Te Roopu Women’s Refuge. Their work is invaluable and deserves support. 

Koha tea is available as are origami vaginas – go every night and you could clitlect them all! (Some of them kind of look like speedboats, so if nothing else you could play pooh-sticks with them.)


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