The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler - directed by Michael Scott

Cast included: 

Dillie Keane, Adele King, Mary McEvoy, Mary Coughlan, Nell McCafferty, Anna Nolan, Fenella Fielding, Sally Lindsay, Carrie Crowley, Ann Charleston, Juliet Turner, Cathy Tyson, Glenda Gilson, Lynda Gough, Leanne Moore, Wendy Peters, Norma Sheehan, Pamela Flood, Hilda Fay, Alison Newman.

Casting - Phil Udell

Stage Manager - Ferga O'Doherty

Since it’s debut in 1997, the show has become a unique international phenomenon, wowing enthusiastic audiences all over the world. It has received an Obie Award in America. Based on the book of the same name by Eve Ensler, the monologues are taken from interviews with two thousand women from all over the world. In the hands of the large number of leading actresses who have appeared in the show, Ensler’s words have achieved a new fusion and relevance, resulting in a theatrical experience that is funny, poignant and exhilarating but above all, presents a view of the world that is defiantly female.

In keeping with the Vagina Monologues’ tradition of casting a vibrant and intriguing mix of women, this Dublin production will feature a range of Irish and international women with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, 

Writer Eve Ensler - who originally performed the Monologues as a solo show at the Cornelia Street Café in New York back in 1996 - wrote the piece to “celebrate the vagina… a tool of empowerment through which women can achieve total femininity and individuality.” Ensler interviewed more than 200 women  and it is their experiences, perspectives and emotions that you’ll hear tonight, in the now-legendary format that has catapulted the show to international success - it’s played in 76  countries so far- and spawned countless imitations. 

Three well-known women from different fields of excellence and achievement share the stage to relate some of the most private and intimate details of lives of a dazzling variety of women of all ages, creeds, sexual preferences and personalities. The words they speak are not those of an author with a message nor who imagines fictional characters, but  those of real  women who experienced these things and whose perceptions these are. 

Quite deliberately, the performers read from cards rather than memorising “lines”. Eve Ensler writes “I never wanted  people to go “Oh, that’s a performance”. I wanted them to remember that this came from real women and the cards kind of symbolize that… I always wanted the women to present in those cards.” 

The Vagina Monologues has featured a host of the world’s most famous women - actors, certainly, but also politicians, writers, musicians, atheletes, celebrities too - and women who are simply known for their courage and  action, the stand they have taken and the work they have done, sometimes at a very local level. 

In this sense, The Vagina Monologues belongs to everyone. Eve Ensler is delighted by that: “I’ll tell you something funny about this piece. I don’t feel it’s ever been mine… With other things I’ve done, I’ve had that “this is my play and I’ve written it”, you know. I don’t have that feeling about The Vagina Monologues. I feel I got to serve something, that I listened to women’s stories and I turned it into something by listening and then loving those women. And then I put it back out there in the world, and then the women responded to it ,and the men responded to it.  That strange detatchment I have from the piece, it’s the perfect place you want to be with in everything… You know you’ve done your part in it ,but it’s been a part and there are many other people who’ve played a part in it. I think, because of that, it’s had a very big life…”world of harsh contrasts. 

The big life has been won, however, against the odds and in the face of huge resistance. Religious bodies have opposed The Vagina Monologues on the grounds that it encourages sexual awareness and freedom (er, yes, and...?) while the Chinese Government went so far as to close down performances altogether - something only slightly less remarkable than the fact that they allowed them in the first place. The very title of the show suggests a certain amount of courage is demanded just to pick up the phone and book for it, because you have to say “vagina” to the salesperson! So strong was the taboo surrounding the word, in fact, that Ensler’s publishers ,at first, insisted on a change of title. Of course, she refused. Advertising - especially away from large cities and international centres has been tricky - with many firms refusing to give billboard space and radio stations refusing air time - and losing revenue - rather than print or say the word. Which leads you to ask, with Eve Ensler:  “Like what’s so scary about the word vagina? … And I think you have to really look at that and say “What is scary about the word vagina?”

Ensler believes the taboo around the word is another way of controlling, robbing women of speech about something that is central to their identities, indeed integral to all human life. And the conspiracy of silence leads to abuse, to degradation, to isolation, even violence. For her, The Vagina Monologues is an “inherently political piece… women really need to be talking and thinking about their vaginas and their bodies and empowering themselves and finding their voices.” 

Since 1998, The Vagina Monologues has been strongly associated with V-Day, a movement dedicated to ending violence against women - sexual and otherwise - across the globe. Ensler’s piece gave coherence to the movement and The Vagina Monologues has become its standard. “…. The piece really spurred this social movement. V-Day is a huge global movement now…There’s a time for certain things and it is crucial that this movement to end violence against women happens right now. “ 

Talking and thinking about vaginas, finding a voice, becoming free, empowering - all these course through the main arteries of this remarkable theatrical event. Confrontational, confessional, complex and sometimes  almost unbearably honest, The Vagina Monologues is also wildly funny and humour plays an important part in the show.  “When people are laughing , they process things in ways they’re not conscious of. I really believe in laughter.” 

The Vagina Monologues has been translated into over 35 languages and running in theaters all over the world. Her experience performing The Vagina Monologues inspired her to create V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls.

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