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Eve Ensler's 'Emotional Creature' Premier at Berkeley Rep

Emotional Creature Berkeley Premier
Emotional Creature Berkeley Premier
Peggy Reskin

Emotional Creature


Eve Ensler's new play Emotional Creature was a source of excitement and action before, during and after the premier at the Berkeley Rep. Her words a few hours before on KPFA-Berkeley about this show drew me in and I felt fortunate to get tickets just hours before the premier. I found myself facing a board across the full west wall of the Rhoda theater with a Chalk heading of "I Am an Emotional Creature" and beneath that: poems, statements, prayers by the girls or women or others who took up the chaulk available for adding intimate content about their emotions. Eve Ensler had said it is only through the heart added to information or direction that action, change is caused. As the playwright spoke of her work, she said: "We can feel really bad about the young and old women who are raped in countries where we get the benefit of the country's exports to provide the necessary ingredients for our cell phones, but until there is a connection and the heart is engaged, where we see and feel real people being exploited or raped or killed, does it move from interesting. Then we see action, then we take action. Then we have change."

Enteriing the Berkeley Rep on Friday night, it was a full house. For the people around me, the excitement of the new play and the potential of its content making a place for girls/women to be and do and act in their range of authentic emotional expression could be felt in the lobby before the play even began.

The opportunity to participate in the work of VDAY was available at a table right next to the front door. Eve Ensler's first recognized work Vagina Monlogues awakened Eve and many of her friends and associates to the need for activism in response to gender violence all across the world. The contribution of shows up in many places but most notably in the City of Joy in the Congo.

Vagina Monologue in 2002 led the playwright to work with women all over the world. Her work provided an impactful turn in the road for many in raising their consciousness and level of responsibility on a personal and global level. In 2003, Eve Ensler was also recognized for the film "What I Want My Words to Do" won the Sundance Freedom of Expression Award in 2003. A documentary about her writing class she led at the Bedford Hills Correctional facility.

The staging and timing of the evening without an intermission kept the intensity consistent with the experience the play produced. Directed by Obie Award winner Jo Bonney, who has worked with Emotional Creature since it's first workshop presentations, the play brings a sense of participation as we examine what it is to be a girl in the world today. Seven young teen actors perform representing girls from all circumstances of abuse and powerlessness and all places in the world, where pressure and punishment are the rewards for straying outside the accepted role of the female. Each represents the conditions that confine them, and the window of their potential for freedom as they refuse to accept their fate. The video and music used to drive the effects of their situations is deliberately penetrating and effecting. Social and physical violence are felt and heard; the potential for inspiration and empowerment are delivered in the faces of the actors and the spirit of the crowd as at the end, we all stand and cheer.

We, having gotten our seats late, are in the upper balcony where all the high school students are. Eve Ensler makes the possibility for this intimate, yet consciousness raising theater accessible to high school students. It seems about them, for them, their world.

Knowledge, Eve Ensler believes, and heart are the basis for change and Emotional Creature is here to engage, enrage and bring about the recognitions that will cause change throughout the world.

Performances through July 15th, 2012; or call 510 647-2949.