Saturday, April 22, 2006

Taboo-breaking 'coco' monologues steal show in Beirut - Yahoo! News

BEIRUT (AFP) - The audience gasped in awe then broke into applause as the unashamed actress declared that her genital organ, "coco", was angry, in the first Arab adaptation of the US hit play "The Vagina Monologues".

After winning a tough battle with censors, the taboo-breaking "Hakeh Neswan," or "Women's Talk", has taken Lebanese theatre by storm with sold-out performances and rave reviews.

In a Middle East ruled by strict social and religious traditions, calling genital organs by their name -- let alone their nicknames -- is an act of courage.

Even in more avant-garde Beirut, where the stage has recently offered plays about women's liberation, "Hakeh Neswan" beats them all.

This is why Beirut is considered the Paris of the Middle East. It may still have Islamists and it may still have censors that are tougher than ours, but it is still one of the most liberal nations in the Middle East, right next to Israel.

But, it still has issues. Like many other countries there, it isn't exactly free with information about violence against women and children:

"Many things happen in the Arab world where everything is allowed if nobody talks about it. But now at least, these very important issues are put out in the open in a very interesting and courageous manner," said Khalil Hayek, a teacher.

"Women learned that other women have similar problems. And men understood that women are not just hysterical, but have real and urgent issues," he said.

On a sparse set, the four actresses provoke gasps, laughs and sometimes uneasy silence by listing the various names for the female genital organ, most commonly known here as "coco," and its discomfort from tampons, G-strings and medical check-ups.[snip]

In a scene describing often-unreported rapes, the actress playing the part of an 11-year-old girl raped by a friend of the family says: "I could tell my parents that Israel has invaded Beirut, but I could not tell them that your friend has invaded me."

A lot more interesting info about the play and the process to get in shown here:

Taboo-breaking 'coco' monologues steal show in Beirut - Yahoo! News

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