Live recording: Sugar-daddy Theatre’s innovative staging of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, Cape Town, February 2020

Viewing platform: Sugar Tube [YouTube

Tickets: No charge but donations encouraged – to Rape Crisis, Cape Town

Donation link: Suggested R60 – this was the ticket price of the live show– to Rape Crisis

Company: Sugar-daddy Theatre co

Production: Staged as part of V-Day 2020. Proceeds went to Rape Crisis, Cape Town

Cast: Lizanne Peters, Mamello Makhetha, Marlisa Doubell, Candice Poole, Rizelle Junuk, Candice Bernstein and Allistine Bo Grady

Director: Marlisa Doubell

The story behind this dynamic, visceral filmed recording of The Vagina Monologues

In February 2020, Cape Town theatre company, Sugar-daddy Theatre co, staged Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues as part of V-Day, at The Raptor Room in the city.

V-Day is a global activist movement, headed up by writer/activist Ensler. V-Day co-incides with Valentine’s Day and the productions are staged around that day. For V-day, Ensler makes her plays available – at no cost – to theatre companies around the world. There is no charge for the V-Day rights but proceeds have to go to worthy causes.

There were three performances in The Raptor Room and each show was packed: A squash and a squeeze. My plus one and I were shvitzing [Yiddish for boiling] on the hot and steamy Cape Town summer night [February 26]. The city was busy. We battled to find a parking spot and walked a fair distance to get to the venue. “Wow, look at the night life”, I remarked. “Isn’t this amazing. The city is on beat.” It was. We had no idea that all this would cease with the national lockdown and the global pandemic of Covid-19.

The production was/is mesmerising. Read the preview/interview on TheCapeRobyn with Marlisa Doubell of Sugar-daddy Theatre.

Sugar-daddy Theatre co donated the takings for the Raptor Room shows to Rape Crisis, Cape Town. This recording was filmed in The Raptor Room – in front of a live audience. You can watch the show online at no charge but donations are encouraged. The company asks that people donate to Violence is endemic at the best of times and in the pandemic- the vulnerable – especially women and children- are targets.

Watching the film recording, I recall sitting in The Raptor Room, transfixed by the performers. I have seen this play on a number of occasions but without a doubt, this is the most powerful staging that I have experienced. The original was about three hours and I think I saw an hour and half version last time round. The text was edited to an hour for the Raptor Room V-Day shows. I felt like I was watching the piece for the first time.  The accents are fabulous- global accents – a mash up of places and characters. There is a very cool monologue, delivered with a South African kugel accent, by Candice Bernstein. [Kugel is the South African equivalent of an American Jewish Princess]  Mamello Makhetha dishes up a delicious American deep south accent.

Watching this in the pandemic, the monologue revolving around child-birth resonated profoundly for me. In this monologue, there is a re-enactment of the birth of Eve Ensler’s grandchild. We hear about the wonder of those involved – the midwife, Eve and all those present in the community of women- rapt at the vagina, birth, life. In the pandemic, in the current lockdown situation in South Africa, child birth in a hospital is a lonely experience. Women are alone. Partners are required to drop women at the entrance. Even with home births, it is currently for the most part, a solitary experience. Watching now, in lockdown, this monologue literally makes me gasp as I think about women who are alone, labouring by themselves; without support, love and care.

Direction by Marlisa Doubell is tight and fast moving; seguing seamlessly between monologues. It was an exceptional staging of an iconic and important work, just prior to the mayhem of the pandemic. It is great that the production was filmed and that a global audience can get a sense of the extraordinary work by creatives working in live performance, in South Africa.

Related coverage of The Vagina Monolgues 2020 V-Day, Cape Town, presented by Sugar-daddy Theatre co