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25918: Hermantin(News)Taboo subjects explored in Haitian 'Monologues' (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Posted on Fri, Aug. 05, 2005
Taboo subjects explored in Haitian 'Monologues'
With a Creole-French production of Eve Ensler's sexually bold play, Haitian
women in South Florida take a risk and look to the future.
BY CHRISTINE DOLEN
The subject, say the play's producer, director and one of its stars, isn't one
commonly discussed in Haiti: women's sexuality.
As Elizabeth Guerin, who hosts the daily Creole radio talk show Allo Babeth
from 1 to 2 p.m. on WRHB-AM (1020), puts it with a laugh, ``Haitians don't talk
about sex. They do it, but they don't talk about it.''
On Sunday at 7 and 9:30 p.m. at Miami's James L. Knight Center, seven actresses
will take on that taboo when they speak frankly of all things sexual in Pawol
Chat, a Creole-French version of Eve Ensler's worldwide hit The Vagina
What the women want is to bring edgy, adventurous contemporary theater in
Creole to South Florida, then take it to other cities with large Haitian
communities in both the United States and Canada.
Adapted and staged by Florence Jean Louis Dupuy, a Haitian playwright, teacher
and director now living here, Pawol Chat marks the beginning of what all the
women involved hope will be a richer, more daring and eventually more frequent
theater component to the mix of Haitian music, art and dance in South Florida.
To date, producer-playwright Jan Mapou, owner of the Little Haiti bookstore
Libreri Mapou, has been the major force behind serious Creole theater here.
Through the Sosyete Koukouy, a group that champions Creole culture, arts and
literacy, Mapou has seen Felix Morisseau-Leroy's Creole adaptation of Antigone
done at Dade County Auditorium in 1998 and his own historical play-with-music,
Libéte ou Lannmo (Liberty or Death), performed at the Gusman Center for the
Performing Arts last year.
But with Pawol Chat, Guerin and her producing partner, Tamara Beliard, are
extending the reach of their Art'Space Productions -- which produces content
for the Haitian Television Network (carried on Comcast Cable Channel 689), for
radio and for marketing campaigns -- into theater.
Partnering with director Dupuy, whose L'Atelier Theatre Eclosion successfully
presented Pawol Chat in Haiti in 2003, Guerin and Beliard are passionate about
bringing Ensler's 1996 play -- which discusses rape, incest, birth, women's
anatomy and orgasms, among other things -- to South Florida's growing Haitian
''Haitians are very conservative, so this is a big risk,'' says the 26-year-old
Beliard, who has seen productions of The Vagina Monologues at the University of
Miami (she earned bachelor's and master's degrees in accounting there) and in
France. ``But for people of my generation, this is a huge thing.''
Guerin loves such risk-taking, though, and does it daily on Allo Babeth.
''I talk very frankly on subjects -- on color problems in the Haitian
community, on Vodou, on everything including sex,'' she says. ``I had three
girls [from the cast] on, talking about sex. The listeners would never talk
like this if they weren't on the phone [and therefore anonymous]. People aren't
used to this kind of play here.''
In the cast are Cynthia Jean Louis, Audrey Guerrier, Fabienne Colimon, Nicole
Zamar, Daniele Jean Robert, Huguette Saint Fleur and Sabrina Monsanto, the only
South Florida-based actor in the production. In the play, Monsanto plays a
stressed intellectual who goes to a workshop in order to get in touch with her
''This play has blown me away completely,'' Monsanto says. 'It was
revolutionary when it was done in Haiti. Women would come up to us and say, `I
can relate!' It was so welcomed and acclaimed.''
Director Dupuy, who now teaches at Broward Community College, began working
with the actresses when they were little girls in Haiti. With this production,
she says, the company is finally ``. . . blooming in my hands . . . In Haiti,
people like popular theater, not this kind of theater. It took 10 years to
catch the audience, 14 to train the actresses, but I hope this is the beginning
of more [Haitian] theater here.''
Whatever the audience reaction is -- if Pawol Chat were a sellout Sunday, then
900 people would see it -- Guerin believes Dupuy has achieved something
distinctive with her interpretation of The Vagina Monologues.
''Eve Ensler's play is great -- it's intellectual, but it's also colder,'' she
says. ``Florence's production is very hot. She adds some Caribbean black spice
Christine Dolen is The Herald's theater critic.