(Am re-posting this from Stone Soup's "Vagina MonoBlogs" put up as part of the PR for the theatre's production of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues in April 2010. Since I'm about to executive produce and act, with New Amerikan Theatre, in another production of it as a benefit for the Columbia City Cinema, thought it would be timely to include it again! - CLW)
“Please don’t send me an ad that has the word ‘vagina’ in it. It offends me.”
As PR manager for Stone Soup theatre, I hadn’t intended on contributing anything other than the first blog entry, to introduce the purpose of the Vagina Monoblogs, as I thought it’d be more interesting to hear from the folks who were in rehearsal for it on a nightly basis. However, now that I’ve been hit with a couple interesting responses while marketing the piece, I can’t hold off any longer in weighing in with MY two cents.
A couple weeks ago, in attempting to contact our local GLBT newspaper and propose a story – after all, besides being about vaginas, the piece is about women of varying race, color, gender status, economic bracket, sexual orientation, as well as boasting a multi-ethnic, gender-diverse cast & crew…seems like a no-brainer to me. The editor, however, got really pissy with me as I tried to explain why this might make for a good story and grumbled something like, “…when is someone going to write a piece about men and THEIR genitalia?” which left me at a loss for words. What do you SAY to that? “Look out your window at the Space Needle”? He told me he meant gay men, and that the whole “women and their vaginas” thing had been overdone – what makes it relevant anymore?
I’m sorry, you call yourselves a “GLBT” newspaper, not a Gay Male newspaper – does the lesbian experience (which is included in the VM’s) not count as GLBT? Does the trans experience (also included, in this 10th Anniversary edition) not count as GLBT? That is to say nothing of bisexuals, who seem to be left out of the equation on a regular basis, the unicorns of the queer community.
In wearing my “actor” hat, I was part of the ensemble in Stone Soup’s last production of Vagina Monologues that ran for five months from 2004-2005 – I stepped in during the final month when another actor left due to other acting conflicts. I was kind of mercenary about the whole thing, really – I had seen Eve Ensler perform it back in 1998 in the Bullitt Cabaret at ACT and thought it was pretty great – but after the whole “celebrities doing V-day” every year, the spoofs on Saturday Night Live and the theatre community kind of scoffing at it as not “real” theatre, I wasn’t that interested in the content, thinking, as with the aforementioned editor of local paper, it wasn’t relevant anymore, had been done.
Several performances and sold-out audiences of newly-liberated women into my run, I had to rethink my cynical stance. Everyone in the arts at some point or other gives lip service to “changing the world” and “helping people”. Yet it’s these same artists that are flippantly calling The Vagina Monologues passé and overdone. Maybe as artists in the theatre community, we’re jaded and it really does seem irrelevant. However, the five months’ sold-out audiences of women mostly in the over-40 demographic back during the last run who are rallying together for this run and giving us healthy ticket sales before the run has even begun, would beg to differ. Do they not count as people we’re helping? To see older women in the audience crying tears of joy at finally being released from their own shame issues surrounding their genitals is a pretty powerful thing.
Take the quote at the beginning, received in response to an e-mail blast I sent out about the production. Do I quietly not respond and take her name off the mailing list, or instead offer her tickets to the production as someone who might truly benefit from experiencing it and as a result feel less offended both by the word and perhaps her own vagina?
And finally, who knew this “passe”, “overdone”, “irrelevant” piece of theatre would cause any controversy at all? It can only mean one thing…hatred of vaginas, whether directed inwardly towards ourselves or received outwardly from others is still alive and well, making this production still very much current, very much relevant, and very possibly changing at least some of our little corner of the world. And I haven’t even BEGUN to touch upon the whole theme of violence against women…
Day to day thoughts, rants and mental detritus.