Presented by the American Repertory Theater
Written and performed by Eve Ensler
Directed by Diane Paulus
Review by Kitty Drexel
Trigger warnings: nudity not for the purpose of female objectification, implied drug use, graphic depictions of violence and cruelty, raw feminism
(Cambridge, MA) Our iPads, tablets, game consoles, phones and anything else that requires processed natural minerals and metals are the by-products of systematic rape. This is an oversimplified statement but it is true. The ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and complications within the mineral supply chain means that conflict minerals end up in everyday items. The computer I’m using to write this review likely has conflict minerals in it. The device you’re using to read this review likely has conflict minerals in it. By not pushing for a transparent mineral supply chain, we are aiding the conflict in the Congo. By not taking an active stance, we are telling the companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc. that we approve of their trade dealings with companies that don’t require transparency. As ignorant consumers, we are part of them problem.
Eve Ensler is world famous for birthing The Vagina Monologues. She is an activist, playwright, and amazing woman that creates the change she wants to see. In In the Body of the World, she uses her experience of healing from stage 4 uterine cancer to reconnect with the world community. Her at-home bodily struggles tie her to the Congolese women living through the horrors of mass rape and militia rule. Acute focus is placed on Ensler’s fight but her broader goal is educating the audience about the raping, beating, killing, torturing, and committing of other crimes against women for the sin of inhabiting a country at war with itself.
ITBOTW is shocking, graphic, raw, troubled, and matter of fact. ITBOTW is tender, joyful, generous, and excruciatingly beautiful. It uses navel-gazing to remind us of our human duty to fight for those without the resources to free themselves. It is feminist performance art for the masses.
Ensler’s performance is indescribable; it is an experience that will have you screeching laughter as you weep uncontrollably. She is hilariously morbid and impressively dignified. Please go see it to decide how it makes you feel. The ravaged bodies of women must not be the casualties of war.
Feel impotent and want to help in some small or large way? Here are some links.
Read and Share: In the Body of the World, the memoir that the play is based on, about Ensler’s mission to reconnect with her own body. By doing so, she reconnects with the world.
Act: V-Day Organization, a global movement to end violence against women.
Act: One Billion Rising, a call to action/activist movement to end violence against women.
Act or Donate: City of Joy, in Bukavu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
From the V-Day website on City of Joy: “Since 1996, sexual and gender violence in the Eastern DRC has been used to torture and humiliate women and girls and destroy families. Advocates on the ground estimate that over half a million women and girls have been raped since the conflict began. In addition to the severe psychological impact, sexual and gender violence leaves many survivors with genital lesions, traumatic fistulae, severed and broken limbs, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Survivors are regularly ostracized and abandoned by their families and communities. Another added challenge is widespread gender inequity.”
Educate: Dr. Denis Mukwege of Panzi Hospital
From the Physicians for Human Rights website: “Dr. Denis Mukwege is a world-renowned gynecological surgeon who is the founder and medical director of Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He founded the hospital in 1999 as a clinic for gynecological and obstetric care, and expected to be working on issues of maternal health. Since 1999, however, Dr. Mukwege and his staff have helped to care for more than 30,000 survivors of sexual violence. The hospital not only treats survivors with physical wounds, but also provides legal, and psycho-social services to its patients. Even patients who cannot afford post-rape medical care are treated without charge at Panzi Hospital.”