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Romania: Romani Actresses Shine a Spotlight on Feminism

20.7.2017 23:50
Giuvlipen Theatre Company
Giuvlipen Theatre Company

Giuvlipen Theatre Company is a Roma feminist theatre company based in Bucharest, Romania. The company was established in 2014 by several professional Romani actresses in Bucharest.

Giuvlipen strives to empower Romani women within their daily living conditions and communities. Dazed Digital Magazine quotes founder Mihaela Drăgan as saying, "Their name, Giuvlipen, combines the Romani words for woman, giuvli, and the suffix ipen, which stands for crowd. It’s the closest Romani language gets to feminism."

Drăgan is both an actress and a graduate in Romani language studies. She hopes to raise awareness of the need for feminism and speaks out against the hypersexualization of Romani women through her performances.

Giuvlipen’s page on the East European Performing Arts Platform states:  “Our group creates theatre performances based on life stories of Roma women, about their difficulties living between a traditional patriarchal community and a demanded integration into the dominant (oftenly [sic] racist) Romanian community.” The group is working to dispel negative narratives about Roma people by putting the main issues Romani women face daily onstage.

Issues like forced eviction, lesbian and transgender rights, and the silencing of women under a patriarchal society are regularly put under the spotlight. Giuvlipen prides itself on its performances, which are independently written, produced, and performed by the Romani actresses who are also supporting the organization.

One such performance premiered on 23 February 2017, Who Killed Szomna Grancsa?, about the chilling case of a 2007 teen suicide. Grancsa was a 17- year-old girl whose “parents refused to let her go to high school because they wanted her married, and were worried about the costs of travel, clothing and books but also feared losing control over her virginity and, ultimately, over her,” reported Dazed Digital Magazine.

Though her parents eventually let Grancsa attend, she had a male supervisor with her at all times. Ultimately, rather than continue fighting against her family’s traditionalism and their suspicion of her classmates, Grancsa decided to hang herself.

The women of Giuvlipen are determined to bring positive change to their community and are not afraid to highlight negative accounts to do so. On their EEPAP page they state, “As Roma women, we want to make our own voices heard in our own communities and in non-Roma society and to help other Roma women to make their own voices stronger.”

Djenne Dickens
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