OzAsia Review: Say No More

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Say No More is a performance by 26 women from three different countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia. In 2017, 60 women came together from these three countries to share stories of what it is like to be a woman in the world today. The performance is artistically directed by Pat Rix and partnered with Tutti Arts and ACS Stepping Stone.

This is a performance about women. Women from all walks of life, women who have endured pain, heartache and disappointment. Women who are tired of trying to live up to the standards and stereotypes that society and the state has set out for them.

It’s a show of women who aren’t afraid to speak up, who want their voices to be heard. They speak of the taboos and myths of society, such as domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, marriage and sex. It’s a show full of emotion, it’s raw but most of all it’s genuine.

The performance was in the the Meeting Hall of Adelaide Town Hall. A beautiful old building with decorated stain glass windows. Before the performance, attendees have the chance to look at other intimate exhibits including art, video and poetry installations all expressing the universal feelings of being a woman.

With all the women dressed in ‘custom’ wedding gowns and uniquely decorated veils, you are welcomed into a wedding ceremony full of song, laughter and tears. The characters are all authentic and brave; they have a resonating story to share. There are four different languages spoken during the performance: Malaysian, Indonesian, English and Auslan. With the audience quite literally placed in the middle of the stage, to add to the atmosphere that this is a ceremony and you may be the audience, but you are also the guests. The performers break down the fourth wall between the audience making them a part of what is sometimes an uncomfortable and confronting conversation.

Although there are heavy topics being discussed in this play, the characters still manage to lighten the mood with jokes and sass, bringing a feeling of warmth to the room. The music from the Gadhan Arcadian Ensemble helps with this aspect as well. A wedding ceremony would not be complete without singing and dancing and this perplexing ceremony is no exception. The cast twirl in their dresses and sing as one in way that is very charming and quite mesmerising.

As a woman watching this performance, you feel empowered to be brave, to do what feels right to you instead of trying to please others, to step away from the confines of society’s stereotypes and to live boldly. There is also a sense of melancholy in it all, with the humbling reality that these sad stories are shared by many women, but it is up to us as women to stand together, to expose the lies we are told and to say this is enough, one story at a time.

A truly touching performance.

4 out of 5 stars

– Shannen Wilkinson

 

 

 

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