Monday, July 30, 2012

Eve Ensler and The Vagina Monologues

She is one of the most energetic revolutionaries in the world today, with her ambition to end violence against women and girls, everywhere. Eve Ensler has launched a global movement known as V-Day, to end rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery. She has set up a community in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, called the City of Joy, to help Congolese women who have been raped. Classes in literacy, self-defense, communication, political action and mental and physical healing were held in the first year. A terrible history of widespread and violent rape had made such a center important in the Congo.

Through V-Day campaigns, volunteers and college students in this country put on benefit performances of Ensler’s plays, including The Vagina Monologues. They hold teach-ins and workshops for men, to raise awareness and funds for grassroots anti-violence groups. V-Day has produced a documentary film, Until the Violence Stops; this72 minute documentary is available from Netflicks. It shows women from Harlem, Ukiah, Pine Ridge Reservation to the Philippines and Kenya, revealing their experiences of abuse and genital mutilation, and what they are doing to improve their situations. A five minute trailer for this film can be seen on You Tube.

Funds raised by V-Day support local and national organizations worldwide, including Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan. The V-Day movement exists in 140 countries from Europe to Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the Caribbean.

In June, 2012, Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown was banned from speaking during a debate on a bill putting new restrictions on abortion providers, because she had used the word ‘vagina’ in her remarks. As a result, four days later a special and rousing performance of The Vagina Monologues was staged on the steps of the state capital, before a crowd of 5000. Eve Ensler was on hand. You can watch the action on You Tube – Vagina Monologues at Michigan’s Capitol Steps.

The Vagina Monologues was written in 1996 and first performed in Greenwich Village, New York City. It has been translated into 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Clearly it has been a powerful opening for women to talk about their sexual selves, their joy, their anger and their liberation from prudery and restrictive customs. Ensler has written numerous other plays, including “I am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World.” This play was recently staged at the Berkeley Repertory Theater. It features a cast of 6 young women who talk, sing, and dance their way through a script that covers cliques, popularity, sex, sexual slavery, genital mutilation, slave labor in a Barbie Doll factory and more. The brilliant cast has now gone to New York City.

Here’s the big news of this column. The Vagina Monologues is coming to Marin, and specifically to Bolinas! It will play at the Bolinas Community Center on Saturday, September 22nd at 7:30 pm. It will be staged at the San Geronimo Cultural Center on September 15th, and at Toby’s in Point Reyes on Friday September 21st. This play (which I have seen several times) is different at each staging as the cast and venue changes. It is much more than a ladies’ night out; men and couples will also get a lot out of it, including humor, sadness, surprise, and a powerful understanding of the human condition.
Sadja Greenwood, MD, MPH: back issues on this blog. Leave me a note, and I'll answer you pronto. Pura Vida

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