THOUGHTS: My Lingerie Play at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater

Matt Park, Diana Oh, Ryan McCurdy, and Rocky Vega in {my lingerie play} Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

If Lily Allen, Regina Spektor, Fefe Dobson, Gwen Stefani, and Margaret Cho had a baby (even though science tells me that’s not possible), there’s a good chance it would be Diana Oh. She is a rock star, activist, feminist who fearlessly addresses many issues people of color, women, and queer bodies face today in {my lingerie play} 2017: Installation #9 THE CONCERT AND CALL TO ARMS!!!!!!!!! This wasn’t just your average theater going experience (thank the gods), nor was it simply a didactic lecture on all of the things wrong with the patriarchy – all though the multitude of Cro-Magnons that are attempting to destroy the world right now may disagree. Diana Oh delivers a glitter, bubble, music filled, colorful extravaganza. Because this was more of a concert-event than your mama’s kitchen sink play, Diana started the show off by asking the audience to remove their theater helmets (the ones that limit our understanding and expectations of what theater can or should be). I’ll ask you to do the same as I give you 7 details about my experience. 

  1. The Shimmer Station: The minute I stepped into the theater I was greeted by rocking house music, christmas lights, pink/blue/purple/green and every color in between, and walls covered by brown paper bags that had individual responses to Oh’s prompt “Why do you create a safer and more courageous world for us?” Diana stood on a soap box on stage wearing sunglasses and holding up brown bags with the question and directions written in bold on them. Projections on the side wall featured images and video of the many installations of {my lingerie play} (more on that later). Rattlestick staff welcomed me as I crossed the threshold into the totally transformed space and directed me to the Shimmer Station at the back of the theater. What is a Shimmer Station? It’s only the biggest throwback to my teenage love of Limited Too and Claire’s glitter make-up, body art, stickers, temporary tattoos, etc. The only thing not from my teens was the enlarged sculpture of a hairless vagina with the words below “You were born from here.” I promptly deposited my things in a theater seat covered with shimmery fabric and went to the back to shamelessly cover myself in all the sparkly things. I loved seeing how creative the audience got, especially the men with glittered up mustaches. 
  2. This is the 9th of 10 Installments: Before the production at Rattlestick, Diana Oh had been working on {my lingerie play} since 2014. There were 10 installments, and each is different and took place in a different location. Installation 1/10 involved Diana standing on her soap box in the middle of Times Square in her lingerie with a brown bag on display that read “THE WORLD BENDS OVER BACKWARDS TO MAKE EXCUSES FOR (white) MALE VIOLENCE​.” The 10th and final installation took place last Saturday in Washington Square Park before her final performance at Rattlestick. To find out more about her other installations Click Here.
  3. Lingerie as a storytelling device: As you may have speculated, or not, there is a fair bit of lingerie worn during the performance. Diana takes us on her journey of self discovery, coming of age, pain, joy and advocacy using her personally iconic lingerie to identify different chapters in her life. We start start with her Calvin Klein Red Lace Bra during her Jim Bobbio crush faze at 16, and she peels off or replaces pieces down the line as her story continues.
  4. Down with the patriarchy: It’s a tough time in America to be a woman right now. With birth control and abortion on the chopping block and the go ahead from the leader of our country for men to treat ladies however they want, any steps we’ve made forward must have been on a treadmill instead of on the path to progress. {my lingerie play} is a call to arms, and Diana Oh is intent on leaving no stone unturned.  She has, as she calls it, a “rant” where she discusses the multitude of issues with the way women are and have been treated in this world and other problems caused by the patriarchy. She gives some pretty powerful words that hit home: “​Here,​ ​I​ ​experience​ ​street​ ​harassment walking​ ​to​ ​the​ ​E​ ​train.​ ​Somewhere​ ​else,​ ​women​ ​are​ ​stolen​ ​off​ ​the​ ​streets​ ​and​ ​become​ ​kidnapped child​ ​brides​ ​or​ ​have​ ​acid​ ​thrown​ ​at​ ​them​ ​because​ ​they’re​ ​too​ ​pretty.​ ​What​ ​we​ ​experience​ ​here​ ​in the​ ​States​ ​is​ ​a​ ​micro-percentage​ ​of​ ​the​ ​violence​ ​and​ ​degradation​ ​that​ ​women​ ​face​ ​globally.”
  5. Bye fourth wall, or expect the unexpected: Not only does Diana engage in conversation with the audience, but individuals who are brave enough to venture on stage might get their head shaved (no, I’m not joking), participate in a consent workshop that involves a smooch or two with our leading lady, or join the band to rage out about the patriarchy while playing instruments they never thought they’d play.
  6. The Band and the Music: Ryan McCurdy (Musical Direction/Drums),

    Ryan McCurdy, Diana Oh, and Rocky Vega singing. Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel

    Matt Park (Guitar) and Rocky Vega (Bass) were pretty awesome and almost as exposed as their fearless leader. They had fun costumes on that seemed like modern glam rock meets Josie and the Pussycats. Diana’s lyrics (and guitar playing) reverberate long after the lights have dimmed and the audience has gone home, “Love​ ​to​ ​my​ ​mother​ ​for​ ​giving​ ​me​ ​these​ ​hips​ ​and​ ​all /Swaying​ ​like​ ​an​ ​animal​ ​as​ ​we​ ​stood.” Fingers crossed there’s an album in the future.

  7. She Goes There: Diana gets personal, vulnerable, and exposed (emotionally and otherwise). She bares her scars to the world as well as her strengths, from her first sexual experience with Jim Bobbio to the time she was followed by a car full of catcalling men late night in Brooklyn. It’s an inspiration to witness her courage and candor as she shares intimate details of her life and body with a room full of strangers. One of my favorite things that she pointed out was that we’ve “never seen someone who looks like her speak for this long.” She unabashedly voices the issues that continue to be swept under the rug today about race, gender, and sexuality.  My only question now is where do we go from here?

Diana Oh at the center of a circle formed by audience members and band members (from left) Matt Park, Rocky Vega and Ryan McCurdy, during the finale. Photo Credit: Credit Emon Hassan

{my lingerie play} was one of the hottest tickets in town in from September 27th to October 28th, 2017. While the metaphorical curtain dropped for the last time at Rattlestick Theater last Saturday, I have no doubt that the project will live on, continue to grow, and provide more humans with the Shimmer Station they never knew they needed.

For more information about Diana Oh and {my lingerie play}, click here.