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veiled monologues

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premiere 11 Dec 2003


Our alliance partner Adelheid|Female Economy presents Veiled Monologues.


Veiled Monologues premiered at the start of 2003, and became a grand success both in the Netherlands and internationally. The play was performed in many Dutch theatres, women’s refuges, mosques and even in the Dutch House of Representatives. It also toured in Belgium, France, the US, Germany and Turkey, and there were scened lectures provided in Jordan and Egypt.

‘tales so full of the refinements of love’s sports that your own Dutch bluntness starts to shame you. The stories are intensely poetic, with delightful details where no one expects them’ NRC

Now, more than ten years later, one finds the play as relevant as it ever was! Veiled Monologues depicts the world of the Islamic woman living in the Netherlands. She gained, whether she wanted it or not, a lot of attention. The political climate of the last few years sketched an image of a veiled and practically willess minority. But can we really say we know her well enough to judge?

That is the question theatre maker Adelheid Roosen asked herself in 2003. Roosen set out as a tourist in her own country to interview women, both veiled and unveiled, from a standpoint of sincere interest and curiosity. Joyously, ashamedly and sorrowfully the women shared their most intimate experiences. The results of these exposures were processed into twelve monologues that offer an entrancing view into Muslim women’s personal worlds. The monologues vary in personality; they are poetic and visual, sometimes painful and sad, sometimes humourous and sometimes downright hilarious. It does total justice to the women who were interviewed. This is their language: warm, soft, intimate and feminine. The monologues are brought to life by women stemming from an Islamic background, and are accompanied by the music of a Turkish saz player.

The central themes of the monologues are the questions; what do we know of each other’s traditions, what prejudices do we suffer, and are there real differences in physical intimacy felt by the bare-bellied teen, when compared to the traditionally clad Muslim woman? What taboos and dilemmas are still to be conquered in the sexual field, what traditions influence our relationships, the integration process and the relations between cultures? What is the role of religion in these matters, or is it rather alla bout defending identity and hanging on to traditional values?

These are the nuances that Adelheid Roosen wants to explore through Veiled Monologues, thereby sending a signal encouraging society to change for the better. The West has always adopted many aspects and values of foreign cultures, often without thanks or even realising where their origins lie. The Arab women’s world is – once you have entered and embraced it – a heart warming and welcoming place.

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