Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: sexual harassment

Niqabi Ninja at CT Fringe

(and why it is still so important to see it.)

We 3 met today to do a bit of a pick-up rehearsal. To be honest, I thought we would meet, get going and then say our farewells. Instead, because we haven’t seen each other for a few weeks, we ended up catching up, and what happened is we started sharing stories again. New hideous stories of rape as gang initiation, rape and sexual coercion during political disruptions on campus, feelings of fear and frustration at being silenced during sexual harassment.

We all agreed that we felt a certain power in being able to express ourselves theatrically, while giving this cause an energetic and accessible voice, through Niqabi Ninja. In fact, we are itching to put it in front of an audience again, and are really hoping the audience will be a wide one, of CT Fringe newcomers. We want many women to identify and more men to become aware; to understand, to feel.

If you saw and were moved by Niqabi Ninja please tell your friends and acquaintances, your colleagues and students to come and see it. If you missed it, now is your chance. Book here on the CT Fringe website for one of our 6 performances.

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Khwezi Ninjas

NN by Nicky Newman - WEB-12I had no idea how perfect the timing of Niqabi Ninja was going to be, but on the eve of the announcement of South Africa’s election results, in front of the whole country, four young female ninjas performed a silent, poetic, theatrical protest that was somehow more meaningful than the election results themselves.

Four young women invoked the buried tragedy of Khwezi, Zuma’s rape victim, as he stood behind a podium, oblivious. And then they were violently removed.

In our short run of Niqabi Ninja (a play that deals with sexual harassment and mob rape in Egypt, but reflects on it everywhere in the world) we became more and more aware of how men were largely ignorant of the prevalence and impact of sexual harassment and even rape itself. We realised that all women who ever have to walk somewhere or share public space at some point, have to prepare themselves for the inevitability of harassment. Women are exhausted by the relentlessness of this constant and ubiquitous targeting.

It is Women’s month (hilarious), and Women’s day on Tuesday (a whole day!) and there are programmes and discussions and even adverts about what this means. But those four ninjas ‘said’ it perfectly, and they were shut down immediately. I know for certain that the time is absolutely now for everybody to see and experience our play Niqabi Ninja. I need help to get it out there. Anyone know who can produce a nationwide tour? Every campus, high school, organisation, government building, police station, boardroom needs to host a performance. Now.

Call me with your ideas. 0834403961.

(Above photo by Nicky Newman)

 

Niqabi Ninja and every woman

NN by Nicky Newman - WEB-16Only 4 people have seen rehearsals of Niqabi Ninja so far. A 12 year old girl, a grade 12 female student, Nicky Newman the photographer, and a man (Jon Keevy, Alexander Bar theatre boss and lighting designer). The 12 year old told us afterwards that she knew all about things like (sexual harassment) that from school. The grade 12 student shared with me a private story about her own bad and harassing experience, Nicky shared some of her ‘harassment in Facebook comments’ ¬†stories, and Jon retold a story about the sexual inappropriateness of a man who lives in the same building as a friend of his. Something like this has either happened to you or to a woman you are close to. Those are the facts.

At every rehearsal one of us (and there are only three of us there usually) will have a story to tell, either about what happened to us on the day, or in the past. I have begun to realise that every single woman has string of sexually implicit incidents that embroider her life. Not every incident will make us feel like a victim, but that doesn’t change the nature of the incident. Women, and girls, are targets of this mostly under reported, under responded to sexual behaviour. And most men don’t really understand the range and breadth of it until they are told about it.

Niqabi Ninja reflects something of every single woman and girl’s experience at some point. It’s hard to swallow but it is undeniably true. Have you ever met a woman who has not been sexually harassed? Can you believe that?

Loren Loubser and Bianca Flanders, two unbelievable actors and amazing storytellers, remind me of different parts of myself. We are totally different in style, attitude, personality, background, age and experience. And yet, we have so much in common, mostly in the stories we tell about being women. And men, most of you need to hear these stories, just to know, to have the invisible made visible. We are ready to tell you.

Niqabi Ninja is on at the Alexander Bar on 18, 19, 20 July and 1, 2, 3 August. (The pic is another of Nicky Newman’s amazing photos)

Why I am happy (even though the world is totally upside down)

IMG_5891On Monday of this last week we started rehearsing Niqabi Ninja. It is a brand new work, written by Egyptian playwright Sara Shaarawi. I met her last year at the WPIC and I worked on an excerpt. I immediately put it on my to do list, and I revisited it after the Reference List protests at the University currently known as Rhodes. Niqabi Ninja is an extraordinary two-hander that investigates sexual harassment in a totally engaging, honest, contemporary, timeless way. Although it is set in Cairo, it could so easily be Cape Town, or Joburg, or Rio, or anywhere where there are women, and men who harass them.

In a gift from the theatre gods, two of Cape Town’s finest young actors signed up to perform this show. I have completely fallen in love with Bianca Flanders and Loren Loubser, who remind me what an amazing training UCT drama school is. These women are exciting, committed, passionate, rigorous, imaginative, generous, questioning, brave and so powerful. I cannot wait for them to be seen.

We have three showcase performances on the 17, 18, 19 July at the Alexander Bar. Come and see the work that makes me so happy.

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