Reviews Manchester Published 15 May 2015


Contact Theatre ⋄ 12th - 14th May 2015

Empowerment and Love.

James Varney
Theatre, activism and reportage.

Theatre, activism and reportage.

. voices are a utility in Rites voices are a mechanism and a filter and overwhelmingly i think voices are evidence here . the voices in Rites sound overhead as we enter and throughout the piece are deliberately imbued with Presence which here is obviously a technique to forefront the fact that this is a verbatim piece . the voices of Rites (incidently the voices of women men real people with a relation to and experience of F.G.M.) are used to highlight space (physical, temporal, geographical) they are used to signify the Fact behind lived experience .

. it is sculptural in its construction of Space and Truth in an invisible Yves Klein way and in the way the source interviews have been chiselled and slotted together . and all of this keeps us in the knowledge that This Is Real and These Are Real Women and Real Stories and Real Worlds beyond these walls and our limited knowledges . this is necessary in that Rites is as much Theatre as it is Activism and Reportage and the three are inseparable in forming it .

. at the same time Rites avoids being polarised and there are views ventriloquized that range from difficult to accept to straight up easy to resent . this depends upon your own personal views . mine for what counts had me very upset increasingly often . it is important to put out that Rites takes a great deal of care of its audience despite the subject matter . the show adopts the tactic of every production of The Vagina Monologues ive seen and ends with a rousing and inspiring musical number (lyrics from Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise) to stop us being too sad at the end and it works .

. considering the subject matter there are next to no grotesque moments in the show although there are layers and layers of slow creeping sadness and gutpunch heartstring aching . there is no despair because there is always Survival and the future and this is a record of and call to Action and not submission . there is a tremendous amount of love in Rites . love and (duty of) care are big heavyweight themes within the play and within the production . we are not encouraged to despair we are not encouraged to feel guilty we are not encouraged to do nothing because as an audience we are shown power .

. again and again we are shown people women doing responding acting . there is hope where there is action and there are limitless actions . there is so much love in this show in the characters and in the production love that helps love that heals love that holds and love that hurts hurts hurts . we are in the theatre in the surgery in the living room the kitchen in the GP’s office in the gynaecologist’s we are in the theatre . we are in the theatre and we are being educated and we will leave educated and we will leave knowing more about the world and capable of changing the world .

. i went to this show worried it would make me very sad and it did . but more than that it made me angry . but more than that it made me educated . if this show is to have a legacy then i am hopeful and faithful that it will be action . i am hopeful and faithful that it will be love .

Rites continues its tour to Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol from 19th-23rd May and then Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh from 26th – 30th May 2015


James Varney

James is a writer and theatre maker, based in the middle parts of England. He has created work with Daniel Bye, Josh Coates and Lenni Sanders and had work presented at Derby Theatre, The Royal Exchange, Manchester Literature Festival, Live at LICA and Camden People’s Theatre. James enjoys Peanut Butter, DIY Punk and Long Walks On The Beach.

Rites Show Info

Produced by The National Theatre of Scotland and Contact

Directed by Cora Bissett

Written by Cora Bisset and Yusra Warsama




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