Mark RH Kleinschmidt, Kenwyn
I have never felt so challenged by a theatrical production after attending a performance of #JustMen currently on at the Baxter Theatre.
Produced and directed by Heinrich Reisenhofer, starring Sherman Pharo, Johan Baird, Thando Doni and Loukman Adams, it is the stark and forthright stance taken by men against the scourge of violence and abuse towards women and children. The role players each give a personal account of their lives and stereotypical patriarchal attitude towards women.
Corrective rape is another scourge in communities, and “normalising rape” must be desisted. Men should fight to ensure that history does not repeat itself in the transference of a fathers evil ways to his sons.
With the current World Cup Soccer 2018 fever, it is appropriate that the actors pass to each other a soccer ball (the beautiful game) as the pivotal connection between them as they relate their stories, but also the “kicking” of women by abusive men. The actors depict the diversity in local cultures, yet the underlying theme of violence and abuse is universal.
#Just Men is a real story about violence against women culminating in retribution and honest remorse by the players. The players describe the significant role played by their mothers, suffering abuse at the hands of their fathers and partners, and the socio economic challenges being reared in single parent homes.
The music is appropriate with Baird rendering a Jimmy Swaggart gospel song, illustrating the biblically spiritual influence that abused women often adopt to appease the trauma and abuse. Adams’s vocal talent is also exposed in an acapella song. Their mothers’ affinity with the holy scriptures as escapism from domestic violence while “slow, silent rape”, prevails in the farcical marriage is an aspect also highlighted. Pharo shares how gangsterism lures teenagers and recounts the influence and pull thereof resulting in pseudo machoism.
#Just Men is a new genre of theatre, and an opportunity for real men to stand up and speak out, with a post debriefing session held with male audience members. Real men do cry.