The Vagina Monologues: Women and their stories to change the world

When you think of the last frontier, you may not think of the vagina. Writer Eve Ensler does.

Some members of the local “The Vagina Monologues” production take a smile break during rehearsal. Front row: Joy Williams

Some members of the local “The Vagina Monologues” production take a smile break during rehearsal. Front row: Joy Williams

When you think of the last frontier, you may not think of the vagina.

Writer Eve Ensler does.

In her play, “The Vagina Monologues,” Ensler explores the forbidden mysteries of female genitalia with humor, poignancy and unabashed honesty.

In this stunning celebration of female sexuality, Ensler has created a series of monologues based on the interviews of

200 women who told her their memories and experiences of sex.

After opening in a small, basement theater in New York City in 1996, the play went on to become an Obie award winner and an international phenomenon.

A television version of the play featuring Ensler was produced by the cable TV channel HBO.

In 1998, Ensler launched “V-Day,” a global nonprofit that has raised more than $60 million for women’s anti-violence groups.

“As I traveled with the piece to city after city, country after country, hundreds of women waited after the show to talk to me about their lives,” Ensler said.

“Night after night I heard the same stories — women being raped as teenagers, in college, as little girls, as elderly women. Women who had finally escaped being beaten to death by their husbands; women who were terrified to leave; women who were taken sexually, before they were even conscious of sex, by their stepfathers, brothers, cousins, uncles, mothers and fathers. Slowly it dawned on me that nothing was more important than stopping violence toward women.”

Celebrated as the bible for a new generation of women, “The Vagina Monologues” is performed in honor of V-Day at hundreds of venues during the months of February and March to coincide with Valentine’s Day.

Here on South Whidbey, the play is performed annually to benefit local programs for girls and women.

This year, 18 women will perform the “The Vagina Monologues” on the Langley Middle School auditorium stage at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 5, Friday, March 6 and Saturday, March 7.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Citizens Against Domestic & Sexual Abuse (CADA), Soroptimist Island Girls Day Camp and VDay.org.

Traditionally, the monologues are read by community members who are given guidelines for producing the show, one being to limit rehearsal time in order to retain the freshness and immediacy of each piece.

Co-directors Dana Linn and Anastasia Brencick talked a bit about how to approach a play that has been fraught with much taboo and controversy.

“It is a simple play that was started by asking women one main question: ‘If your vagina could talk, what would it say?’” Brencick said.

“From this simple question, many stories have unfolded that allow us to share in the experiences of women from around the world. These stories connect us and remind us that we share a common bond, through pain and birth, trauma and pleasure.”

Local resident Kate Scott is a member of the cast who will read “Because He Liked to Look At It.”

Scott said reading the piece is a powerful experience for her because she can see parts of her past written between its lines.

The monologue is about a woman who, despite her distaste for her “patriarchal society,” finds a man who appreciates the woman she is.

“In the mid-1970s I was an easily influenced teenager with a militant-feminist stepmother who convinced me that men were inclined to dominate women,” Scott said.

“For at least 30 years, I experienced an internal struggle, as I vacillated between a raw, abrasive style of feminism and a gentler, kinder feminism that honors all aspects of femininity and masculinity. My monologue helps me come full circle and clarify this philosophical struggle I have had with the many roles of males and females,” she said.

This connection to the material is exactly the kind of thing director Linn was looking for when the women came together as a group.

“We’ve tried to foster community within the cast, as well as connection to character by conversation and support,” Linn said.

“We have encouraged women to delve into their character, to develop a backstory about who that woman was before we hear her saying these words, telling her story,” she added.

Monologues with titles such as “My Angry Vagina,” “The Woman Who Liked To Make Vaginas Happy,” and “Not so Happy Fact,” sound difficult for even actors to tackle. And for women who may not be used to performing and have to reveal themselves with such volatile words and actions is even more of a challenge.

“This play is uncomfortable,” Brencick said.

“How could it not be? But these opportunities to be uncomfortable allow us to question ourselves and the world around us and then make positive changes. I suppose that’s why there can be such political energy behind these kinds of performances,” she said.

Linn, like Brencick, is not afraid of the controversy surrounding “The Vagina Monologues” but embraces it for the power it unleashes.

“If we can add one drop of awareness to the forefront of our community’s minds about the violence women are enduring around the world and on our island — yes, in our own back yard — that is the first step to change.”

In addition to the monologues, a six-minute video “Until the Violence Stops” will show the entire V-Day process and how it came into being.

The cast includes Joy Williams, Judy Kaplan, Martha Murphy, Kathleen Schofield, Kate Scott, Casey Lanigan, Darlene Milne, Susan Gilles, Dana Consuelo Enslow, Marta Mullholland, Lindsey Brockett, Signe Cvar, Barbara Dunn, Elisa Stone, Deana Duncan, Deloris Ament, Cynthia Trowbridge and Carolyn Tamler.

The show is produced by Tamler with costumes by Marlene Nakamura.

Musical interludes will be performed by Barbara Dunn, Barb Nichols and Bridget Fischer. Five students from South Whidbey High School, Megan Besst, Sommer Harris, Emily Dunn-Wilder, Athena Michaelides and Dinah Hassrick, will sing and stage a performance art piece for each of the three performances.

This show contains explicit themes and language.

Tickets are $20 and are available at Miriam’s Espresso & Café in Coupeville; Rob Schouten Gallery at Greenbank Farm; Island Girl Nails in Clinton; in Langley at Moonraker Bookstore, Spa Essencia, or the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts box office; in Freeland at 1504 Coffee Bar or Island Tea and at the door.

More in Life

Edited photo - better to use
A green reaping: Whidbey pot farm harvests outdoor bounty

Volunteers approach bushes of kush with shears in hand at the South Whidbey farm owned by Adam Lind.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Laura Foley, left, and Don Meehan locate a grave in Sunnyside Cemetery using Find a Grave's GPS grave locator.
Volunteers adding GPS grave locator to Sunnyside’s website

Two community volunteers took on a project to make it easier to locate graves in Sunnyside Cemetery.

Photo by Theresa Farage
A photographer captured the Northern Lights over North Whidbey Tuesday night. Theresa Farage went to Dugualla Bay Heights Road looking toward La Conner armed with her Nikon D5200 camera and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Northern Lights over Whidbey

The dazzling northern lights appeared in the skies across the state this week.

Rob Schouten's "Skyfall" oil painting is inspired by the San Juan Islands.
His etchings and paintings explore the mysteries of nature

You can Rob Schouten’s aquatint etchings and oil paintings at his gallery and art garden in Langley.

Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times
Will Hawkins and Dawn Smith officially took ownership of Rainshadow Nursery on Oct. 1.
Rainshadow Nursery welcomes new owners

Dawn Smith and Will Hawkins of Greenbank officially took ownership of Rainshadow Nursery on Oct. 1.

Penn Cove employees serve customers during the brewery’s grand opening celebration of its new location in Freeland over Memorial Day weekend. (Tyler Rowe / Cold Pizza Creative)
Drink This: Penn Cove opens its 3rd taproom on Whidbey Island

Brothers Marc and Mitch Aparicio opened a new Freeland taproom at The Barn over Memorial Day weekend.

Gabrielle Robles at Sunnyside Cemetery in a block house.
Coupeville woman offers haunted history tour

Gabrielle Robles is taking guests on a Haunted History Tour of Whidbey Island on Oct. 29 and 30.

See caption
NBA star Isaiah Thomas travels to South Whidbey

South Whidbey teenager Jacob Ng recently got to live out a hoop dream.

pumpkins
Halloween happens on Whidbey

Spooky season is back in swing and there are plenty of events that promise a ghoulishly good time.

Most Read