Eve Ensler is obsessed with vaginas. And so she should be. According to her, vaginas lie at the very core of female empowerment. “I’m obsessed with women being violated and raped, and with incest,” says Ensler. “All of these things are deeply connected to our vaginas.” Her play The Vagina Monologues isn’t just a theatrical success, it’s an international political movement. The play was written and first performed back in 1996 and since then it’s been performed in cities all over the world by some of the biggest names in the business. It’s also raised over $50 million for women’s anti-violence groups through Ensler’s V-Day initiative.
This Sunday the show returns to Sydney for one performance only at the Parade Theatre in Kensington as part of the 10th anniversary of V-Day. All of the performers are volunteering their time and talent. One such performer is much loved actress Jacki Weaver. “The monologue I’ll be doing is The Angry Vagina,” says Jacki. “It doesn’t resonate with me on a personal level as I’ve always been extremely good-tempered in that area! My monologue also mentions loving chocolate and I actually loathe chocolate. And my character claims to have given birth vaginally, whereas I, much to my disappointment, was forced to give birth by emergency caesarean section.”
This year’s V-Day performance aims to raise $50,000 for the NSW Women’s Refuge Movement. It’s a state-wide representative body of women and children’s refuges with a specific focus on providing quality support for women and children escaping or experiencing domestic violence and child abuse. It’s a cause that Jacki’s thrilled to be able to support. “Not just because violence against women remains prevalent throughout society – making it such an important issue – but also because the play itself is so brilliantly ground breaking, it deserves to be playing all the time. It’s a privilege to be part of it all.”
Noni Hazlehurst is another member of the cast, thrilled to be doing her bit for feminism and women in need. “I find nearly every woman I meet to be inspirational,” says Noni. Her list of stand out women include Aussie author Helen Garner and the woman who supervised her two homebirths. “It’s not fashionable but… homebirths and breastfeeding for as long as possible [are] two of the most wonderful experiences a woman could ever have. And I still reckon high heels are stupid.”
Other women in the cast include dynamic television and radio personality Julia Zemiro (SBSTV’s Rockwiz ) will act as MC; well known actresses Pamela Rabe, Genevieve Lemon and Annie Byron, as well as ABC arts journalist Fenella Kernebone and FM radio personality Amanda Keller.
Ensler decided to write the play after conducting a series of interviews with 200 women about their views on sex, relationships, and violence against women. She asked them all one simple question – If your vagina could talk, what would it say? “I took little pieces and strains of their stories and created a theatre text that is really talking about the sexuality of women. The story of women is filtered through the stories of their vaginas and so it ranges from very orgasmic pleasure to quite shattering stories; it goes from celebration to sorrow to happiness.”
The Vagina Monologues is on Sunday 29 Jun at 5pm at the Parade Theatre, NIDA in Kensington. Tickets are $65 adult, $45 concession, with proceeds going to V-Day. Click here to book tickets or call Ticketek on 1300 795 012.