Director Emily Aboud on the inspiration for her new play which comes to the Edinburgh Fringe later this month
WORDS EMILY ABOUD, IMAGES MYAH JEFFERS
Sex(ism) baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be (due to colonial influence in the Caribbean).
Hello all, my name is Emily Aboud, I’m going to talk a bit about sexism and homophobia in the Caribbean.
Before we begin, this will not be a “Caribbean-bashing” piece because frankly, in many ways, we are eons ahead of Europe, culturally.
No word of a lie, we are wholly and proudly multicultural. Sure, this was not our choice. Sure, we were forced into multiculturalism by, um, what was it again? Slavery, indentureship, exploitation and colonialism. Who did that again? Europe.
So, cheers for that. But yes, I will not be insulting the Caribbean here. I would just like to shine a light on a few things.
Who doesn’t love the Caribbean, am I right? What a fantastic culture it is, truly. We’ve got curry goat, reggae music, carnival and the entire world trying to emulate us.
You will find jerk chicken in every country, you will hear soca and dancehall music in any club. Everyone loves to import our culture: look at the Kardashian’s for christ’s sake. We’re fashionable. But let’s zoom in a bit on our culture for two seconds shall we?
“You got the wine, doh waste my time, ey gyal, I tired of the lip service.”
“You bawl out when me force it in, as the ramping start it stop.”
Heya, those lyrics are pretty sexist, Huh? Pretty violent too. I grew up listening to music like this. Caribbean womxn grew up listening to this incredibly popular music, actively promoting the objectification of womxn. Cool. Let’s go a bit further.
“Man to man, gyal to gyal, that wrong. Scorn dem.”
“Boom bye bye inna batty boy head, rude boy nah promote no nasty man him haffi dead.”
Now, this isn’t just “pretty violent”. This is literal murder music. Again, I grew up listening to this music. Hearing that queer people are wrong, must be scorned, must be murdered is disgusting, obviously.
But worst of all, I didn’t realise this for years. I didn’t realise that this thing, this music, so inherent to our culture, was violent. How could I? This kind of music was everywhere and when I started to ask questions and poke holes in it, the response I got was, “But is we culture, can’t do nothing about that”. So yeah, not the response I was hoping for.
I am now 25 and have read a few books since then. I’ve written some things and I’ve directed some things and a year ago, I decided to make a play about these things; about homophobia in the Caribbean, about sexism in the Caribbean, about taking up space.
Essentially, creating a piece that would shine a light on my own culture, celebrating the good things (our fantastic cultural inclusivity) and questioning how the bad things (our horrific feminist and queer exclusivity) were even allowed to flourish.
I’ve been interviewing people for the past year and have facilitated two workshops before the writing process began. We’ve discovered some magical, heartbreaking things, you should try and see it.
SPLINTERED is the play I wish I could’ve seen 15 years ago. I’m very proud of it, I’m very excited for the world to see it but most importantly, I’m glad it exists.
Catch Emily’s show at the Edinburgh Fringe, 9.30pm, 31 July – 25 August (not 13th or 20th). Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49), 11b Bristo Place, Edinburgh EH1 1EZ. For tickets, visit bit.ly/splinteredfringe and follow @lagahootheatre for more dates.
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