Sex, Secrecy, Shaming – Can a Woman Reclaim Her Life in the Wake of Scandal?
Sex and shaming, the personal and the political – Lewinsky tackles issues that shape, and all too often distort, the lives of women.
Dianne Nora’s play, which comes to the Fringe from the USA on its world premiere tour, explores infamy and intimacy and how we reckon with the people we were and the experiences we had in the past.
Taking place between 1990 and the present day the drama unfolds through a series of conversations and encounters between a woman called (for the sake of argument) Monica and various imagined lovers.
It focuses on how a woman who has endured infamy reclaims her life and what we are truly discussing when we talk about The Other Woman.
- Venue: Greenside @ Infirmary Street – Forest Theatre (Venue 236)
- Time: 22:00
- Dates: Aug 2-10, 12-17
- Previews Aug 2-4 (£4 to £6)
- Duration: 55 mins
- Ticket prices: £8 to £10
- Advisory: Ages 14+ (scenes of a sexual nature, strong language)
- Box office: 0131 226 0000or https://tickets.edfringe.com
- For further information see: monicatheplay.com
What was the inspiration for the work?
I’ve been fascinated by the media frenzy around Monica Lewinsky for some time. When I began writing this play, I knew I didn’t want to write about the Clinton scandal, but I was interested more broadly in how trauma and shaming affect our relationships. So, I created a new character: Monica. I asked myself, what would it be like if everyone she met already knew the worst thing that had happened to her?
What kind of wider impact in terms of conversations do you hope the work will produce?
I hope the play will make people reconsider not only the legacy and history of Monica Lewinsky, but also how we respond culturally to scandal and sex, and how gender complicates that response. Our director Hannah Tova Wolff is particularly interested in interrogating what role the media plays in our Monica’s notoriety and development. We hope the play will prompt our audiences to take a look at their own histories, individually and as a greater culture.
How far does the content of the work influence your dramaturgical process? (or – what is the relationship between form and content?)
My point of view is that, culturally, we’re in need of healing. That can’t happen without looking inward and backward. Our play’s chronology, like that process, may appear to be disjointed and contradictory and void of simple solutions. As actors, designers, and other collaborators have joined our project, the world we’ve built has become richer and more nuanced, and I believe that’s reflected in the play’s dramaturgy, and that the play is stronger for it.
How does this show relate to your usual process or content?
Via Brooklyn makes theatre that interacts with and examines other art forms, and with this show we are all taking a closer look at the art of media. I tend to write plays that exist at the intersection of the personal and the political, so Monica is right in my wheelhouse. Using the focus on media to examine her story has been a very fruitful pairing.
What makes you want to make theatre rather than another art?
I love that theatre brings people together to ask bold questions. We’re so grateful to audiences for coming together to brave these questions with us.
Is theatre – and the Fringe – a good place to provoke conversations?
I think the Fringe in particular–where people from all over the world, and from all types of artistic practice, have come together to create–is the ultimate place to provoke conversations. I hope the questions Monica stirs up will spill over into pubs, through the streets of Edinburgh, and maybe stay with some folks as they travel back to wherever they call home. And I know the art we encounter during this time will enrich the conversations we have in our work and lives.
Director, Hannah Tova Wolff, says: “This is a play that packs a punch – it speaks directly to so many critical issues about sex, relationships and shaming.
“It also addresses subjects like the different treatment meted out to men and women caught up in a sexual scandal and asks ‘how do the personal and political feed off each other?’ ”
“Monica is a universal character with traumas from the past that impact on her current relationships.
“She’s having to navigate a world in which the lines between private, the intimate and the political are blurred. In the social media age these concerns are becoming ever-more urgent and affect the lives of growing numbers of women.”
Monica: This Play Is Not About Monica Lewinsky gives us a chance to ponder just when it all went wrong.
Notes for editors