There are few spaces where the Hip-Hop generation can connect with Broadway, outside of the scope of either two of Lin Manuel’s hit musicals. In The Heights or Hamilton. Typically, we have look to something with flare, a good beat, some celebrities or a hot buzz. But Eve’s new show is none of these.
It is stripped down.
It is stripped down but also filled to the brim with the two things that Hip-Hoppers love the most; heart and honesty. It is not loud, but it is powerful. Eve Ensler’s new show will not have a revolving door of special guests like The Vagina Monologues. It won’t celebrate sexuality in the way that TVM did. It actually mourns it a little.
In The Body of World opened on Feb. 6th at the Manhattan Theatre Club, NY City Center Stage 1. The one woman show is Eve’s heart-dropping narrative, detailing her battle with Uterine Cancer. Masterfully woven through this story, is her activism- referencing her beloved Africa, her disdain for the current administration and her complicated relationship with her family. As she spoke about her relationships with her mother and sister, many of the women in the crowd gasped with the familiar, “I get it”.
Ensler’s love for Africa, The Democratic Republic of Congo, fuels her recover. But it also energizes the audience member who understands the oppression of Black bodies. It is in this mutual recognition of trauma that makes you ask (as she asks herself all throughout), “how could this happen to someone who does so much good?” The good humor in how she deals with everything and the openness about her life (drugs, promiscuity, and insecurities) gives you the answer. It just does. That’s a message that we have heard many of time. But it does not stop there. While it just does, it also always prompts us to do better and even help while we are in the mire.
But why should Alicia Keys see it? It is the same reason that Lauryn Hill, Joseline, K. Michelle, Cardi, Remy, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Tamar, Toni, Towanda and all the rest of the Braxtons should see it… It is about how important our wellness is— and how traumatic it is when the core of that wellness is snatched from us. How super women who set out to save the world need to vulnerable enough to be saved… Women in the Hip-Hop generation need to go see this play because it is imperative for women to mourn our reproductive organs in a society that calls them ugly and really doesn’t care about them.
It proves that sometimes the greatest activism one can engage is a sincere reflection of one’s own mortality. I think Alicia would appreciate that.