QUITO – Ecuadorian actor Jose Pacheco has created a one-man play on vasectomy that serves as a platform for humorous yet biting observations about relations between the sexes, domestic violence and other touchy subjects.
For 80 minutes, Pacheco dons an array of hats, wigs, eyeglasses and other props to give life to eight different characters of both sexes and a variety of ages, though all of the action unfolds in a doctor’s office.
The title of the work, “Vasecto ... mio?,” is a pun on the Spanish word for vasectomy – vasectomia – and the masculine form of the pronoun “mine.”
Based on actual events, the play addresses male fears about taking responsibility for birth control, social demands on couples regarding reproduction, the different forms that families can assume and the need for men to abandon macho attitudes in favor of “human” ones, the 40-year-old playwright and actor told EFE.
Traditionally, he said, “when you talk about birth control, it’s the woman who has to take the pills, to get her tubes tied, but in general we don’t talk about vasectomy.”
Through the voices of the man who has come to the doctor to get a vasectomy, the patient’s wife, the doctor’s secretary, a cabbie, a young would-be Lothario and a prostitute, among others, Pacheco expresses a range of widely held views on motherhood, love, sex, marriage, sex education and being a responsible father.
Some of the most pointed commentary is directed at people who think a woman can’t raise a child on her own.
“I needed a husband because society can’t see a woman alone,” Pacheco says in the persona of a single mother who complains that some people think her son will go astray due to the absence of a father figure.
Married for years to a woman who is now also his producer, Pacheco says that while the family is important, the institution is no longer “the way we used to conceive it.”
“The theater is a vehicle to expose everything we are experiencing. I have tried in every way possible to appeal to the conscience and – starting from laughter – to open up something that we, as a society, continue to keep closed,” the actor says.
The cabbie character, who is meant to embody old-fashioned machismo, proclaims the man’s obligation to “spread his seed” without concern for notions of fidelity or the abandoned children he leaves behind.
While a younger man who sees women only as means to satisfy his desires provokes not only derisive laughter but indignation, as in the case of a woman who rose from her seat during a performance to shout “Wretch!”
The play likewise features uncomfortable silences that Pacheco likens to the behavior of people who refuse to speak up about gender violence.
“We still have that taboo, that evil germ of ‘you better not say anything because nobody should get involved in a quarrel between husband and wife,” he adds.
“The macho that is destroyed bit-by-bit in the play is the one conceived of as the being who must reproduce, command, he who imposes his will, he who takes away opportunities from a woman,” Pacheco says.