The Three Furies, the albany
Zena Edward‘s tale, summoning the spirit of the ancient Furies, female powers who might purge the world of its multiple iniquities, is stunning. A stunning piece of one-woman, spoken word theatre.
It deals with the problem of how to reconcile the anger that comes from pain at injustice with the love you are supposed to embody. How can we be angry from a position of love? Don’t expect rants though. Zena’s fury takes a long time to build. It seems to me that there are at least two principles at work here:
1. Anger does not come from nowhere; it is not a clinical matter of chemical imbalance.
3. Our emotional states are worn out in our physical selves.
Zena is keyed into mystical, poetic truths and would reject science’s positivism (the kind of thinking that leads Lawrence Krauss to declare that “Ultimately, neurobiology and evolutionary biology and psychology will reduce our understanding of morality to some well-defined biological constructs. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/sep/09/science-philosophy-debate-julian-baggini-lawrence-krauss)
What results is an epic poem, a 21st century afro-feminist Wasteland. The starting point is obvious enough: a crowded tube carriage full of dissatisfied commuters but Zena digs deeper to unearth the root causes of this surface frustration, knowing she is not “the first” to ask why things are the way they are. The sound of newspaper pages turning furiously is transmuted into the sound of a whip cracking, as the news does damage to the servile people who read it.
Zena takes us through different settings, shifting scene and character effortlessly through small but memorable movement and her gift for creating voices. In a barber’s shop we are made to examine masculinity and its destructive, dominance-complex; in a sauna, we look at feminity and its self-destructive body-conscious inferiority-complex; and we look at the seemingly endless inequality of race until Zena finally breaks into the rant which the poem promised us. The resulting monologue, to me, matches the amazing power of the ending of Blake’s Milton and is as vicariously liberating as the pre-amble was self-examining.
The poem and accompanying film are being toured around the country as part of the Afrovibes festival and Zena promises that she will be doing some more of it soon, hoping to lead into audience discussion after the shows. With the material she is dealing with, I will be interested to see what comes up.
You can also catch Zena at Hammer & Tongue Hackney on Tuesday 6th November @ The Victoria, 451 Queensbridge Road, Dalston E8 3AS.