Have you ever wondered what your vagina would say if a magical elixir made it talk? In this quirky one-woman musical comedy, Joylyn Secunda invites us to join the psychedelic journey of Zoe and her estranged Yoni through a series of sexual memories to a new state of understanding. “The Moaning Yoni” is a hilariously critical look at New Age healing and modern sexuality through one organ’s eyes.
The extremely versatile Secunda plays over a dozen characters, with distinctive voices and exaggerated physicalities for each. The story stars shy, uncertain Zoe; her soft-spoken, ethereal Healing Circle guide, Crystal; and her tell-it-like-it-is Yoni, who exclaims “Oy vey!” and tangoes with a tampon. As Zoe travels through moments of her sexual development, we meet all-too familiar characters along the way. Sound design is used to hilarious effect, matching the perfect theme song to every bad kiss and every douchey Tinder profile. Secunda playfully engages the audience in mild participation, as children in a Sex Ed class, as virtual YouTube viewers, or as fellow Healing Circle participants.
Zoe has spent years not listening to her vagina, smothering it in shame, and trying to please it the way others do. She eventually learns that “a Yoni understands what a Zoe does not say.” Finally, her Yoni takes control of the production, but not for long, as an absurd fist-fight commences between the Yoni and the Disembodied Voice who narrates Zoe’s hallucinations. After a tragic twist, audiences are left wondering what would have happened if the Yoni had had her way.
Secunda’s show speaks to the importance of listening to one’s aversions as much as one’s desires, and of not doing things just to fit in. Zoe never reaches enlightenment about what her Yoni wants, but at least seems to learn what her Yoni dislikes. Sometimes, the most meaningful realization is “opening up a menu and realizing you’re not hungry.”
Through her script and performance, Secunda critiques the industries of spiritual healing and sexual fulfillment. She pokes fun at the hype around Tinder, sound healing, jade eggs, chakras, sacred tinctures, yoga, and tantric sex. She argues that trying to be more “mindful” can translate to over-intellectualizing things, rationalizing one’s sexuality instead of feeling it, and creating a disconnect between the mind and body. Of course, this is not true for everyone, but for our protagonist, she is looking for answers in the wrong places, instead of simply listening to her own body. The bottom-line take-away from this show is to listen to your body, because everyone’s needs are different.
Crystal advises Zoe that if she should feel lost, repeat the mantra, “I am the Divine Goddess, Shakti, Shakti.” Once the Yoni calls her out on collapsing gender and genitals, the audience sees this image of Divine Femininity as nothing more than a comfort blanket when gender and sexuality are called into question.
While the show is an intersection of New Age spirituality, gender, and sexuality, it is perhaps not the comprehensive look one might expect. It barely touches on the issue of female-empowering but gender-reinforcing spiritual figures of Mother Earth, Pachamama, Shakti or Gaia. Rather, Secunda leaves you to come to your own conclusions about New Age spirituality and the intellectualization of gender and sexuality, and rather focuses on one person’s embodied experience of desire.
“WHO IT’S FOR”
For those who don’t listen enough to the vaginas in their life, as well as those who love quirky musical numbers, fine-tuned physical comedy, and surreal satire.
Joylyn Secunda presents “The Moaning Yoni”
at the 29th St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
Performances: June 6 – 16, 2019
Venue: 08 – Black Theatre Workshop Studio
3680 Jeanne-Mance, Montréal, H2X 2K5
Admission: $10 – 12 | Ages 18+
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Driven by her passion for contemporary art and writing, Cardineau pens reviews, interviews, and analyses informed by her own multidisciplinary practice. She formerly held the positions of Head Writer and Online Editor for Yiara Magazine, a feminist art and art history publication. She is excited about what this year’s Fringe Festival has to offer, especially in the context of theatre and politics today.
Find out more about Cardineau’s recent projects and upcoming exhibitions/productions at cardineauceline.myportfolio.com