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Embrace your ‘Panza’

Julio Nievas, Contirbuting Writer

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The “Panza Monologues,” a play written by Virginia Grise and Irma Mayorga, is based the female panza (stomach). From the history of the panza to the unique difference of characters our stomachs have, the “Panza Monologues” is constructed of stories and interviews compiled from different chicanas of “all ages, places, and spaces.”

These bold monologues, presented by Conciencia Feminil this weekend in the Cal State Long Beach auditorium, displayed different emotions. Scenes ranged from dark to funny, sorrowful, cheery or critical.

“I think it’s amazing that we have something in our chicana community to talk about that makes us empowering and still bring up our family, values, and our culture and put it in display,” said Liz Zapeta, who starred in the “International Panza” scene.

The cast was quilted of 13 actresses and emcee Alfonso Manzo, whose silly dialogue kept the audience ready to laugh each time he came out to present the next scene.

Marisol Aguilar, an actress in the play, said, “I thought [the play] was a good way of giving voice and sharing these stories with the audience.”

In the “Inside the Panza” scene, Aguilar talked about the stomac having a small world of its own with people, rivers and houses. The scene emphasized that in order to take care of the world, we must first take care of our panzas and treat them right.

Scenes such as “Hunger for Justice,” “My Sister’s Panza,” “Praying” and “El Vientre” were filled with gloomy and melancholy themes.

One was about suffering through hardships of not being able to feed the panza with traditional Mexican cuisine that each Latin-based person appreciates because of lack of money. Another was about a woman’s womb.

A portion of the monologues was about the belly having a mind of its own. “The panza does have an ego” was a line from the play to portray that.

“Sucking It In,” performed by Beeta Amini, discussed the struggles of putting on a pair of tight jeans because her panza would be too big to fit sometimes, but after a series of strategies used to make the jeans fit, the ending result was worthwhile.

Other scenes involved comedic relief and appreciation of having the panza with oneself, as said in “Panza Brujeria,” played by Erika Flores. Her panza is treated as she treats her own friends — she will always have her panza’s back.

Was the central message of the play sent to the audience? Zapeta thought so.

“I feel like the language and coding of what we talk about is understood by the audience,” she said. “The audience is very versatile, just like the cast. We hardly talk about our panzas in a positive way, and I believe that is why the audience listened.”

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