Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Arts

Young Man Holding Greek Drama Masks by Hill Street Studios

 The National Arts Festival is upon us. I will not be attending this year but I can imagine the energy, spirit and mood.  Cue Newspaper is in full swing, with young journalists running around Grahamstown watching average to great plays. The Green Village is amass with bits and bobs you think you desperately need but don’t. Eateries are filling up with strangers from all corners of the earth. Most importantly performers are stretching, memorising, reciting and possibly washing away the jitters with some gluhwein.

Sadly, my acting career ended with my high school career but the arts remain a crucial part of my social life. Not just theatre of course, but dance, film, music, literature and anything else under the ever expanding definition of ‘the arts’. Typical of all things middle class, it all has the potential to be pretentious: I’ve never been to the theatre under dressed or sat at the movies without coming up with several interpretations of what the director and writer must’ve meant. But there are two sides to every coin.

As part of the Amnesty International Society I took part in the Vagina Monologues in university. I recited “The Hairy Vagina”. My rather conservative boyfriend sat in the audience squirming, after weeks of trying to talk me out of it. He almost managed to convince me it was crazy, except the words ‘You cannot love a vagina unless you love hair’ proved to be more powerful. I uttered the words ‘My first and only husband hated hair. He said it was cluttered and dirty’ and my feminist side reared its head and demanded the audience listen and internalise the message. The audience tensed when I said ‘He made me shave my vagina. It looked puffy, and exposed, like a little girl’. But it was the one’s who tensed the most that came to see the show more than once. My embarrassment slowly thinned amongst the standing ovations. The cast had become a medium for expression; tackling issues of self- esteem and feminine pride. The play was never about me, it was about the power of theatre.

The arts is an extension of our lives, a reflection of our decisions and a creative documentation of history.

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