20 Years Later, The Vagina Monologues Are as Important as Ever

Lorraine Berry in Signature:

9780399180095It is difficult to comprehend that The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler’s performance piece about women, their bodies and sexuality, is only celebrating its 20th anniversary. Difficult because its impact – over $100 million raised for programs aimed at stopping violence against women – has been global, and each February, productions are ubiquitous. Performances have taken place in disparate locations, ranging from the bright lights of Broadway to underground performances mounted in secret in cities such as Islamabad, Pakistan.

Each year at around Valentine’s Day, hundreds of college campuses across the United States and the world present The Vagina Monologues as fundraisers for various local women’s agencies in each production’s area. In addition, other moneys can be donated to “VDay,” the foundation bringing attention to women all over the world that have been affected by violence. These college productions feature students, staff members, and faculty in the speaking roles and as part of the production staff. Some of the monologues require a chorus of voices, while others require the single voice of individual women – many of whom have no prior acting experience – but who are animated in their desires to articulate each story, written by Ensler after she had interviewed over 200 women and got them to talk about their vaginas.

The stories have moments of side-splitting humor, and other moments that make audience members weep. But a common reaction to being in the audience is the desire to get organized to resist the forces that keep women vulnerable to violence. And the play has new elements each year, as Ensler writes a new monologue for that year’s performances in response to current issues. The 20th anniversary edition of The Vagina Monologuescontains a number of these new monologues, in addition to a history of the play’s production and reception.

More here.