“Mijn (bij)vrouw”: a play about polygamy

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A post by Peter Jordens.

Amigoe reports that Mijn (bij)vrouw [My (Side-)Wife], a play by Curaçao-born director and actor Raymi Sambo and his theater company VIG, will be soon be staged in Curaçao, after having had great success in the Netherlands.

Mijn (bij)vrouw is advertised as a passionate moral thriller and deals with polygamy in Antillean society, in which having a mistress is a common practice yet also a taboo subject. The play is based on a true story in the Netherlands. A barren woman discovered that her husband was having an affair. His mistress bore him a child. The woman then proposed that she and her husband adopt the child. In this manner, she and her husband were able to have the family that they had always wanted. In so doing, she broke with the stereotype of the passive wife who lets her man have his way despite her distress about the situation.

Sambo’s fascination with the phenomenon of the mistress goes back to his own family. His sister, who passed away a few years ago, was a mistress. The wider family could, out of shame, never talk about her extramarital relationship, but up to the present day her lover is an accepted member of the family.

To gain more insight into the phenomenon, Sambo talked to several Antillean, Surinamese and Dutch wives who had been cheated upon. They usually are involuntarily stuck in the middle of a triangular relationship, but they accept the behavior of their husband. They remain at his side, despite their pain ― sometimes out of love, sometimes for economic reasons. Sambo wanted to make the frustration of these deceived women visible, not so much to make them into heroines, but rather to give expression to their suffering.

According to the actor, director, writer and producer, Mijn (bij)vrouw is about the destructive power of love and the extreme consequences of a surplus of desire and sorrow.

The above is a translation of part of an article in Dutch titled “Mijn (bij)vrouw: Toneelstuk over polygamie in de Carbische samenleving”, which appeared on page 4 of the November 30, 2017 print edition of Amigoe.

Dutch reviewer Pieter Rings calls Mijn (bij)vrouw “surprising, intriguing and profoundly humane” as well as “nuanced and relatable” in the Theaterkrant.

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