Aresolute determination to encourage gender equality and equity, has stimulated Bulawayo-based creative Patience Phiri to bring a rare play titled Naked Girls Reading at Theatre in the Park in Harare.
By Kennedy Nyavaya
Zimbabwe is largely a patriarchal society where male hegemony is normalised while reform is quickly dismissed — the question is how then to effectively preach parity in such an environment?
Phiri’s concept done by two skimpily-dressed women on stage intertwines “taboo” and critical gender issues by using the appeal of the female body to capture the attention of all while redressing a scourge.
In an interview with The Standard Style, Phiri said the urge to amplify the female voice fortified her into writing stories and executing the daring concept.
“The encouragement came from wanting to hear my story being told and waiting, but not seeing it being done. So, I sought to do it on my own and in the process celebrating my body as well as encouraging other women to do the same,” she said
She added that she and her co-reader Sizwakele Ndlovu relate directly to some of the stories which detail struggles of modern women.
“Some of the stuff is part of my story and part of her story. So, I would say there is a personal connection in there,” Phiri said.
She said that she was overwhelmed by the reaction among the audiences as she was uncertain how they would respond to the shows.
“There were a few times where we felt intimidated by thinking if we really were doing the right thing like if we are showing too much or not,” she said.
“We were wondering if people would receive but it has been an amazing journey and we’ve had a great response and other people came from Bulawayo to come and support. It’s amazing.”
Ndlovu, a renowned television personality, said although it was her first time on stage, the experience was overwhelming but conceded that it has consequences depending how her family takes it.
“The two people to react to this are my mother and daughter, but so far they took it well and hopefully when they see the end result, they will still take it well,” she said.
Regardless of the torment they may face after the show, the ladies seem to have struck the right chord as audiences that attended could be seen glued to their seats with eyes eagerly fixed on them during their readings.
They have literally borne it all for the sake of equality.
The idea is, however, not entirely new as it is a reproduced version of the one founded by Michelle L’amour and husband Franky Vivid in Chicago in the United States in 2009.
While the purposes are different on both contexts, the essence is to break the bounds of artistry by pure expression of any form, boldly.