Crazy virtual reality plays out on stage

What you need to know:

  • Virtual reality in Waswa’s play takes on many shapes and constructs, it would seem.
  • The first virtual reality to be tackled by Waswa’s playwright Waswa is monogamy, which has been attacked by African traditionalists.

‘Virtual Reality’, the play produced last weekend by the Journal of Waswa and, is not about VR, the technology that creates illusory experiences that enable people to feel as if they are in the Himilayas while they are just sitting on their living room sofa.

VR is an incredible technology that can give one a 360-degree perspective on just about any place on or off the planet. But in the case of Derrick Waswa’s Virtual Reality, the term has a more literal and down-to-earth meaning.

It’s still about some people seeing and believing illusions rather than what most call reality. Take the case of motherhood. Tyra looks like she is a mother of several daughters, including Kamila. But her behaviour is anything but what we traditionally think of as motherly, which has the connotation of being selfless and loving, especially towards one’s offspring, and making sacrifices to put their interests first.

Tyra doesn’t display a single one of those qualities. For a moment, after hearing her daughter Kamila was raped by her social media manager, she is almost considering going to the police to report her daughter’s experience and exposing her own business partner.

But then, he appeals to her vanity, a factor that plays a big role in Tyra’s life. He also tells her he will destroy all her YouTube videos, reveal all her intimate emails, and cancel all her precious social media contacts.

She’s currently using those contacts to build bridges into the heart of cable TV. He ultimately succeeds in convincing her it’s in her interest not to save her daughter even though she contracts Aids from the guy.

Virtual reality in Waswa’s play takes on many shapes and constructs, it would seem. That includes the reality and virtual reality of marriage, including family. The first virtual reality to be tackled by Waswa’s playwright Waswa is monogamy, which has been attacked by African traditionalists from the first days Christian missionaries introduced it as part of the Christian ‘good news’.

Joseph, Tyra’s spouse, plans to take on a second wife, which is valiantly fought by Judge Joyce, who coincidentally is also presiding over the court case between Tyra and her daughter Kamila who is suing her mom for emotional abuse.

That court case is integral to what vaguely looks like a central storyline in the play although I’m not quite sure since I had to leave before the play’s end. (Show started more than an hour late.)

In any case, the law is meant to give us a clear sense of social civility. It’s meant to give us a line that is clearly drawn between good and evil, black and white, right and wrong. As it turns out, there is nothing that concise in Waswa’s world.

For instance, baby-making is something we know only happens between a man and a woman who have intimate relations. But now, medical science has invented new ways to make babies. Now you can do it ‘in vitro’, by sticking an embryo (female egg) in a test tube and then mixing in a bit of sperm.

After that, if the conditions are right, you can find the egg getting fertilized by the sperm. Then, the magical mix can be transferred into any available womb. And finally, Presto! After nine months, a baby is virtually born!!

Waswa illustrates the hazards of making virtual babies by ‘in vitro’ means. First, you have to find a virtual or surrogate mother to make her womb available for the nine-month process for the plan to work.

In the case of Judge Joyce and her husband who try the ‘in vitro’ means of baby-making, they are shocked at the outcome. The baby is born with virtually no genitalia, neither boy’s nor girl’s. For Joyce, it’s as if this is not a real baby, but to her man, the baby’s acceptable as long as he can be raised as a boy.

Given I didn’t see the whole show, I can only assume the playwright had intended to make a clear point. And that is that our society has gone crazy with virtual reality, so much so that it’s making people hypocrites and fraudsters from morning till night.

The plainest illustration of that is Tyra who is essentially trying to create her own ‘reality show’ comparable to the one that made the Kardashians rich and famous. But there is nothing genuine or spontaneous or even real about what she and her manager are filming.

Perhaps when I missed the last portion of the play, I missed the arrival of characters who had some integrity, honesty, and simple goodness. Otherwise, they were virtually absent from ‘Virtual Reality’.

*Story revised to correct name to Derrick Waswa and not Brian Orina as earlier indicated.

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