Don’t emancipate

By Alessandro Vermeulen and Lisa Weeda
Johan de Witt Gymnasium at Dordrecht
Form: 4C- KCV


I, my Rosegarden

Amsterdam, October 3, 2004. After parking the car, we headed in the direction of the Frascati Theatre (while munching on crusty bread with brie cheese). It does not really have the appearance of a real theatre, but just a space with a reception area and a bar – it is however one of the famous theatres of the Netherlands. This is the place for the performance of I, my Rosegarden.

At 16.00 hours the play began and we seated ourselves, filled with expectation. There are 4 women, namely: Kala, the wise merchant, Aisha, a young and naïve girl, Malika, who is emancipated and the ghost of the deceased Amina. They take turns in telling their experiences about love and about what they would have wanted or not wanted from life.

In between these conversations, the Koran and Hadith are recited.

The embittered ghost of the deceased Amina is trying to bring Aisha back to reality with the story of her failed marriage. Amina is full of cuts and bruises. Mildly put, this marriage did not just fail, but it failed utterly. After she was married and thought herself free and not having to take care of everything, the uncle of her husband came to live with them. That uncle told the husband of Amina that he must keep her under control and that she must do everything in the household. Otherwise he (the uncle) would not be able to uphold the honour of the family. Above all, she was not allowed to emancipate. This was unthinkable! But Amina did want to emancipate and refused to obey her husband. Her husband started to physically abuse her, the whole neighbourhood knew it but kept quiet. Nobody came forward as a witness when she reported the abuse to the police. After this incident she decided to run away, but returned as that was proper. Instigated by the uncle, her husband was raging and beat her till she died, after which he buried her without any respect. Everyone seemed to have forgotten her.

Malika is a smart, emancipated young woman, who does not want anything to do with commandeering, dominant men. She wants to finish her study and become a lawyer or judge. She then wants to live together with some smart fellow, who will allow her what she allows herself. She indirectly warns Aisha prior to her marriage with Imran, and says that she herself would not marry a dominant man.
The presence of Kaia appears at first only to add atmosphere and humour, but upon scrutiny you realize that she truly understands the root of the problem.
Amina continuously tries to save Aisha by drowning in her own rose garden. At each scene with both present, she tries again. Finally she succeeds and Aisha drowns in her fantasized rose garden.

After the play, we received mint tea and were asked to fill in a questionaire about how we found the play and if we recognized everyday events.
The morale of the story is clear, smoothly acted, well brought and without haste. The stories themselves are terrible but the way in which these were presented was sublime and with humour.

Author: Birgitta Hacham
Play: Samya Boualam and Birgitta Hacham
Directed: Patrizia Filia
Mandated by Amsterdam Centre for Foreigners
Production: Arpeggio

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