On Stage

Pussy Power

Inside the Vagina Monologues

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

It wasn’t until I tackled one of the more prickly missives in Eve Ensler’s episodic play known as The Vagina Monologues that I truly understood the power of the pussy.

Apparently, there’s something about repetition that acts as a sort of a spell, transforming a word that previously caused me to cringe—yes, it rhymes with “blunt”—into one that I was more than happy to share with the masses. The women who joined me onstage also took ownership of the language in their own monologues, making sure the audience knew the experiences we were sharing were universal in nature—whether they dealt with consensual sexual experiences, having babies, sex work, body images, rape, or the horrific after-effects of genital mutilation.

From the look of this year’s production of The Vagina Monologues taking place May 11-13 at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center, director Ginny Lang and producer Jessica Renner have once again corralled a fascinating cross-section of Whatcom County women to bring Ensler’s words to life, making sure the playwright’s worldwide movement to end violence against women and girls won’t soon be forgotten.

“I approach the script fresh every time,” Lang says of her third go-round as director.  “Obviously there are some aspects that carry through because the words are the same, but the feel and delivery are different with each woman who interprets them. I’ve seen and listened to these monologues dozens of times and they never fail to move me, to make me laugh and cry.

“I keep coming back because of the material. It’s as relevant now as it was 20 years ago. The power of theater brought to bear on the big, complicated subject of violence against women in all its forms makes it accessible in a way that current events can’t.”

While allowing that the recent downfall of Hollywood bigwigs like Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein and the concurrent #metoo movement does contribute to the relevance of producing the monologues, Lang says there will unfortunately never be a time when the context isn’t right to bring them back into the spotlight.

“The more we pay attention, the more people are thinking about this, the more momentum we have to help end violence and abuse,” she says. “The global theme of Ensler’s 1 Billion Rising Campaign is ‘Solidarity Against the Exploitation of Women.’ We’re part of that every time we perform The Vagina Monologues.”

Lang and Renner chose Mother’s Day weekend to present the play, noting it’s a natural time for women to come together and share their experiences (and, yes, men are welcome). Proceeds will go to Lydia Place, helping ensure the cycle of homelessness for women and children is stopped in its tracks.

I’ll be in my seat Saturday night, watching to see how the new and returning cast members interpret Ensler’s endlessly entrancing and entertaining material. Now that I’ve been part of the show, I can’t wait to be an audience member.

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