Your Old Vic: Aisha (The Black Album) at the Old Vic Online
In some of the most relatable content to come out of Lockdown 3.0, the Old Vic theatre has curated several monologues made available on the theatre’s Youtube channel, as part of the Your Old Vic online programme, in celebration of International Women’s Day. The content of the monologues varies from experiences of domestic abuse, racism and sexism to politics, the global pandemic and other issues that continue to affect women in 2021.
Being in lockdown isolates people from one another to the extent that they might not realise many of their experiences, whether at home or at work, tend to be shared by others across the nation. The first in the series, Putting a Face On is performed by Susan Wokoma and written by Kiri Pritchard-McClean, and follows a young woman debating her relationship with her emotionally abusive partner. The intricate details of her home life with someone who is clearly gaslighting her are another reminder that lockdown has not just been television and video games for everyone – victims of domestic abuse, unfortunately, have had completely different experiences similar to what is depicted here.
As the protagonist goes through the various phases of the pandemic, she mirrors much of what the rest of the country has been feeling. In the first lockdown, many took to clapping for the NHS and drawing rainbow posters in support as the rest of the world also quarantined. The second and third lockdowns saw people becoming increasingly frustrated, and ultimately losing the sense of camaraderie that kept them hopeful in the first wave. By the end, coinciding with her personal enlightenment, Wokoma’s character begins to experience a sense of hope as she and others adjust to the way things simply have to be until the virus can be contained. From her references to popular YouTube videos to her compulsion to shop online, it would be difficult for someone not to relate with the young woman’s experience, and these shared sentiments may be comforting for many as they continue to deal with the situation.
Whilst it seems as though the rest of the world has moved on for the most, part as Britain remains in quarantine and as we transition from winter to spring, new experiences and new social and personal phenomena arise. Thankfully, theatres like the Old Vic share important and insightful content like this for free on their channels for the world to see. Their Your Old Vic series is a must-watch for anyone in the weeks surrounding International Women’s Day and beyond.
Photo: Manuel Harlan
Your Old Vic: Aisha (The Black Album) is available to stream via the Old Vic YouTube channel. For further information visit the theatre’s website here.