The Red Femicycle brings into sharp focus Gender Based Violence in a gut-wrenching and hard-hitting way! The Red Femicyle is not a production for the fainthearted, why should it be for it is not depicting fictional occurrences in some far far-away place but the shameful, stark reality of a nation at war with women as evidenced by the almost daily news headlines of femicide.
It is a foolish yet necessary exercise to attempt to box The Red Femicycle from a traditional genre-specific framework (as all reviews tend to do), yet this aural, visual multi-sensory masterpiece simply defies all of what we think we know of a production as well as what it should be or do.
It does not shy away from tackling matters head-on without hiding behind worn out theatrical conventions as one experiences from the onset when the action ‘starts before it starts’ through a confrontation instigated by one of the actors to the unsuspecting audience.
The Red Femicyle takes place in multiple spaces almost following a journey-motif. It is part ritual, part performance art, part theatre infused with live music, part digital spectacle, part art exhibition yet even all these labels are wholly inadequate to highlight how it utilises multiple elements to bring into sharp focus Gender Based Violence in a gut-wrenching and hard-hitting way!
Featuring the inimitable Ibokwe (Albert Silindokuhle Khoza) this world acclaimed production refuses to parrot tired slogans like ‘real men don’t rape’ to unequivocally state that any and all men can and do commit violence whether sexual, emotional, physical and otherwise and we have to confront this fact so that we can begin to find the tough solutions required.
Perhaps beyond tougher legislation and wholesale change of attitudes by MEN towards women’s bodies, it is productions likeThe Red Femicycle that are needed for this time when Gender Based Violence is escalating daily. If beyond all other strategies to mitigate Gender Based Violence, then productions such as this could be what finally jolts us all to collective action and to realising that we all have a part to play to not perpetrate, to prevent, to report and support victims of Gender Based Violence.
As the nation and world once again commemorates the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, The Red Femicycle is a reminder that it is not enough to set aside only a few days to deal with something women experience and live with everyday which is fear thar they could be next.
The Red Femicycle is therefore a call to action, real, robust, difficult, and necessary to stem this pandemic – because Gender Based Violence is as much a pandemic as the pandemics before and those the world faces now – and the fact that Gender Based Violence is not limited by geography, race, creed, religious orientation, class or any other man-made markers this is what must finally make it first on each and every agenda so that it can finally get the attention it requires and action needed to decrease and eventually eliminate it.
Tonderai Chiyindiko is a part-time arts writer and contributor. He holds a B.A honours degree in drama from the University of Zimbabwe and a Masters degree in Applied Drama from University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He has been part and parcel of the theatre-verse both as an actor and director and more generally worked extensively within the cultural and creative industries sector in various capacities.