Marrying a woman who grew up without a father for whatever reason can be a man’s delight. It can also be a not-so-good experience that any man wouldn’t want to go through ever.
That’s basically how Voices in my head can be summed up. Ever wondered what goes through the mind of a pregnant woman, her original, unedited thoughts? That too and more was explored in the makeup of this theatrical mash up.
A play staged in a living room of a modern house hardly screams feminism, but this new work by Elliot Moyo,having made its premiere on Saturday the 30th of October at the National Art Gallery in Bulawayo; had an emotional appeal beyond sterile.
Best described as a melo-dramatic play, Moyo’s opening lines: “Well I have voices in my head, they tell me to follow them. But I don’t know if they are right. So I need you to stay with me,” plant a sense of timeliness to the play and probably asking the ultimate question, what really goes on in the mind of women and where are the voices all coming from?
While there are elements of this play that can perhaps clarify the misunderstandings that men have about women, Moyo’s lines do not clearly dwell on the various reasons why women who grew up without fathers are considered bitter and insecure.The play has a bias towards a woman with an abusive father, who then decides to vanish. This then raises questions like, isn’t it then a good thing that the abusive, lying, untrustworthy father was absent in her life? But in overall, the play has an unexpected ending to it – the voices are muted, temporarily.
“I have a crazy girlfriend. So yes, it (the inspiration) came from that… from insecurity from family members, my friends, my girlfriend – she inspires me so much … Well I believe no man should be spared that misery so we all have to go through that. [laughs] That is supposed to be it,” said Moyo right after the curtains of the play came down.
Voices in my head, is about the less spoken, misunderstood and hardly documented father and daughter relationship in Zimbabwean literature. It is basically about the insecurities that haunt women who grew up with their dads. It tackles the pain, hurt and anger bottled inside a woman who grew up without a father figure, and how husbands who assume the male role in that woman’s life immediately after marriage can handle the pressure with optimism. In overall, the play brings out the importance of a male figure in a woman’s life which then insinuates that a woman, without a man is weak, emotional, enraged and bitter.
The playwright is superbly delivered through the performances of Donna N as Mandie Good wife, Thelma Ncube as Mandie-Mandy, Tracelley Bvungidzire as Mandie-B, Amanda Dube as Mandie’s mother and Exult Ncube who swaps between roles of Mtha (Mandie’s husband) and Jospeh (Mandie’s father).
The play is about Mandie, a married woman with trust issues. Her uncertainty being a result of many reasons such as growing up seeing her mother in a verbally and sexually abusive relationship with her father. Following the disappearance of her father, she fails to accept the reality that he is gone but chooses to believe that one day he will return – as he promised the day he left. Owing to this, Mandie is tormented by voices that either fuel doubt or give hope to the relationship she has with her husband. She hears her late mother’s voice which makes her afraid of raising her unborn child alone by not telling Mtha that she is pregnant, later projecting “fear of the unknown” that becomes a waste of time eventually. Other voices include the voices of Joseph, Mandie Good wife, Mandie-B and her own voice which all weave into being loyal, boring, bold, bitter, frustrated, unsatisfied, doubtful, confident, happy, sad, confused. All these personalities manifest all at once, leaving her unstable and in the verge of madness.
When Mandie finally opens up (in the height of an argument with Mtha) that she is pregnant, this revelation helps unify the characters transitions, giving room for moments of digestion, perception and answers in the play.
This is when Moyo shifts the scales and becomes conservative and deeply patriarchal. Confirming that even in the 21st century, pregnancy can save any marriage no matter how bad the situation is. Before Mandie lets the cat out of the bag, it can be argued that the voices in her head, was also a reflection of hormonal imbalances. Her moods were scattered everywhere and couldn’t find amicable ways of handling it. That moment she tells Mtha of her pregnancy, and the unexpected supportive reaction from Mtha, somewhat cools the voices off – just a little. She has a bun in the oven to divert her focus from the voices to the unborn child (the only personality soon to manifest).
The curtains of the playwright fell, with a song by the cast with the lyrics:
In the past is where I belonged
Till I found myself in your arms.
Now I belong in your arms,
Now I belong in your arms.
Good conquers evil – the play has a happy ending.
This article was written by Nokuthaba Mathema, a freelance journalist and blogger who is also a women’s rights and HIV/AIDS activist. Her passion lies in human rights advocacy. She is also the winner of the Her Zimbabwe Young Female Freelance Journalist competition.
Main image courtesy of Mhle Nzima.