“Emotional Creature” teaches young women to speak

The cast of "Emotional Creature" listens to Rashid tell a story. Photo courtesy of Frank Flavin.
The cast of “Emotional Creature” listens to Rashid tell a story. Photo courtesy of Frank Flavin.

A new play opened this weekend at Cyrano’s Playhouse in Anchorage from the author of the Vagina Monologues. On stage, the songs and monologues tell the true stories of traumas faced by young women around the world. But behind the scenes, it’s the tale of Anchorage’s young women learning what it means to be an “Emotional Creature.” 

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Emotional Creature directly discusses some hard topics – sexual abuse, female genital cutting, child labor. And the cast of seven young women doesn’t shy away from discussing the issues.

Mary Rose Rashid plays a Congolese girl who is kidnapped, kept as a sex slave for two years, and escapes. Rashid says playing the role helped her process her own past.

“It really helped me to cope with my trauma to talk about some of the things my character went through because it was like, ‘God those words are true!’ I can’t let anyone take anything away from me unless I give it to them. I’m stronger than that, you know what I mean? It helped me a lot to realize that it is okay. I love being a girl. I am okay with being an emotional creature.”

Many of the cast members say that learning about what happens to women in other countries opened their eyes. But they also thought more about the social forces that impact girls here in the United States.

Hazel De Los Santos plays a middle schooler who is ostracized for talking to an unpopular girl and not looking perfect. De Los Santos says it’s an experience many girls and women can still relate to.

“I know for a fact that everyone still goes through it. They wish they could be this, they wish they could be that. They wish they had a big butt, they wish they had big boobs. They wish they weren’t fat. To be honest, I still go through that,” De Los Santos reflects. “I look in the mirror, and like, and sometimes I say I don’t like what I see. But after playing this part, eventually, [I realized] we’re own beautiful in our own different ways and people need to realize that. I still need to realize that.”

The cast of "Emotional Creature" take a selfie. Photo courtesy of Frank Flavin.
The cast of “Emotional Creature” take a selfie. Photo courtesy of Frank Flavin.

So she and others, like Molly Dieni, have started talking to the people around them about the issues in the play.

“My dad was skeptical, initially, about the play. He sees it very much as a very girly thing, and I kinda shut that down.”

Dieni says it’s not just a girl thing – it’s about treating people equally and teaching everyone about the issues that impact young women. And reminding girls that it’s okay to be a girl.

“Emotional Creature” by Eve Ensler is playing at Cyrano’s until March 8.

Anne Hillman is the healthy communities editor at Alaska Public Media and a host of Hometown, Alaska. Reach her at ahillman@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Anne here.

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