By Clarence Lim
7 provocative true-life stories packed into one powerful 90 minutes show, GenerAsia’s Women of Asia (WOA) will stir emotions and make you question the social forces that shape our world the way it is.
Led by world-renowned playwright and director Asa Gim Palomera, and supported by a young exuberant cast oozing with local talent, WOA takes us to places from India and Japan, and vividly presenting their cultural constraints and oppressions on women. The Women of GenerAsia (plus two men) definitely deserve plaudits for a fantastic delivery, considering the fact that most of them were fresh graduates from our local arts colleges.
WOA acts as a powerful transcendent tale that reminds us of the power of tradition and social norms and how they lock women in prescribed roles that they shape their lives. The simplicity of the set allows us to focus fully on the dialogue and nuances that were aplenty, and aptly channels the raw emotions and sensitivities required of each scene.
Scene 3, titled ‘Virgin Sale’, was particularly powerful as it played out a typical coming-of-age fate that befall daughters in poverty-stricken families. The frequently expounded mantra, “No money, no honey!” captures the conundrum girls find themselves in, where they have to pass up on either their soul or filial piety.
Social forces swayed them to pass up on the former, where their hard-earned money can be used to buy new color TV sets for their parents and send their brothers to school.
Each scene synergized the next, with witty humorous dialogue providing a welcome punctuation to the more weighty scenes. What was so poignant and gripping of the tales was that the women had no chance when faced up against traditions and norms, from the woman caught in the Indian Dowry custom to the Japanese Housewife living in a foreign land.
Gender roles have never been as equal as what we see today, and this tale remind us of what it used to be, or what may still be, for societies still stuck in a patriarchal circumstance.