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seven methods of killing kylie jenner by Jasmine Lee-Jones
Darlinghurst Theatre Company (DTC) and Green Door Theatre Company (GDTC)– Darlinghurst Theatre, Eternity Playhouse.
Witty, funny and compelling. seven methods of killing kylie jenner masterfully captures the complexities of being a Black woman and takes a deep-dive into racism, colourism and the commodification of Black women’s bodies and how all of this plays out on social media.
As a Black woman, there is nothing I hate more than having my culture unapologetically appropriated. It feels as though people, white people, want to be Black but no one wants to live Black. To put up with the associated racism, ridicule, and worse life outcomes. And very few people venture to explore the struggles of being Black and queer. Enter seven methods of killing kylie jenner, a play dedicated to asking the uncomfortable questions, grappling with these issues and going where few plays have gone before.
As a Black woman, one of the many things I loved about was how relatable it was, from content to ensemble. Cleo (Moreblessing Maturure) was clad in the universal dress code for Black women, a headscarf to keep those edges in check. She also wore baggy pants and her own stylistic touch- a top demanding the patriarchy to stop stealing from Black people.
Kara (Iolanthe) looked chic, dressed in her ripped jeans, white sneakers and top with the word ‘Queen’ on it- she looked like one of the trendy girls you would expect to see roaming the streets of London.
The lighting was dark, adding to the drama and seriousness of the conversation being had. The flashes of light to lift the mood, they were the perfect touch.
Many parts of the show resonated with me personally. My mission when I was younger was to fit in with other white girls, I chemically straightened my hair, wore baggy clothes to hide my hips and avoided lip gloss- I needed to remove attention to my lips which were noticeably more plump than those of my white friends. My mission was to be ‘less Black’ and become ‘more white’, maybe then, I could be enough and my body would be socially acceptable.
As you can imagine, I was quite upset when these features were praised when popularised by white women, especially Kylie Jenner, and held to be the pinnacle of aesthetic perfection. Trouble is, plump lips and big hips seem to only be perfect on white women, for us Black women, the metric of beauty seems to be different. My experience felt heard by the show. And that is something very powerful.
When I heard about Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner, I was keen to ensure that the play was not a self-aggrandising piece of performative wokeness where white women explain Blackness and the struggles of being a Black woman from their lens and only graze the surface. I’m so glad that this couldn’t be anything further from what it was. The play begins with a comedic quip of how Kylie Jenner, a woman who has been born into ostentatious wealth, can be classed as a ‘self-made billionaire’. When discussing the steps taken for Kylie to get to this point, Cleo criticises the logic of Western beauty standards being defined by a white woman who has been Black-fishing the very same features Black women have been, and continue to be, ridiculed and abused for.
Whilst criticising society’s insensitivity to Black women’s struggles, the play also grapples with the complexities of being Black that are not intuitive, in particular, colourism and non-binary sexuality. By doing so, the play sheds light on how we, as Black women, harbour prejudices of our own and how we are tired of having our bodies commodified for the benefit of white people who will never truly know or understand what it means to be a Black woman.
Cleo uses Twitter to air her frustrations with the hashtag #Kyliefidead. This is met with many reactions, mainly negative. The play lets the audience in on how Cleo and her best friend, Kara, react to this through acting out the tweets- emojis and all. The stage went dark and the smoke machine was put on full thrust. I thought this was brilliant, the audience was filled with riotous laughter and it made difficult issues easier to digest. It displayed how, on the one hand, social media can be a powerful and global platform for activism, and on the other, a scary place.
The play ends with an ode to Sarah Baartman, a South African woman who was placed in a cage and paraded as an attraction in London and Paris in the 19th century. They thank her for her struggle, because it was through her pain and suffering, she taught Black women to never feel ashamed for their bodies. Whilst I love the connection to history and the wittiness of the play, I wanted a bit more from the ending. The ode, whilst powerful, needed to be followed up with a proper summation of how Black women are to continue to fight the war of cultural appropriation and internalised racism that is before us and, model what an ideal society would look like.
With that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed seven methods of killing kylie jenner because it asked the big questions Black women have been grappling with and addressed them in a meaningful way that surpassed mere ‘wokeness’ and took a deep dive into the Blackness. I am grateful to this play for showing me that I am not alone in my struggles and frustrations, through allowing the world to understand the extent of our pain.
seven methods of killing Kylie jenner plays in Sydney until 20th February before moving to Brisbane (24 February – 13 March) and Melbourne (27 July – 21 August).
Image: Teniola Komolafe