The Vagina Monologues was performed in the Howell Building at Brunel University on 27th and 29th February 2008. It was performed by a cast of ten women in their late teens and early twenties. These two performances were part of the V-Day campaign. V-Day is an international movement that works to end violence against women by raising awareness of the problems women face and money to help eradicate them. One of the ways they do this is staging plays of Eve Ensler’s award winning play “The Vagina Monologues” where all profits raised by the performances are donated to charity. The performances at Brunel University donated money to Refuge and the Hillington Women’s Center.
Eve Ensler’s play was the result of interviews that the author conducted with thousands of women about their vaginas. Some of the monologues in the play are funny and some are heart-breakingly sad, some make you angry at the world we live in and some make you proud to be part of that world. These are interspersed with ensemble pieces – what would your vagina wear?, what would it say? – and the vagina facts.
All of which combines to create an incredible piece of theatre.
I performed the monologue ‘I was there in the room’. This poetic piece was written about the author’s own experience at the birth of her first grandchild. It is a beautiful and powerful monologue that made many members of the audience think about the vagina in a new way.
As well this performance, I was also responsible, along with two fellow cast-mates, for the production of show and for bringing the V-Day cause to Brunel University. In late November, we held auditions and found seven other talents actresses to join us in bringing Ensler’s powerful words to life. As well as running the rehearsals, we also organised fundraising for the show, rehearsal and performance space, posters, tickets, publicity, lighting and sound.
The nature of the project meant that it was never just about the final performance. The cast ran a cake stall at the university to raise extra funds for their chosen charities. Everything sold at the stall was made by members of the cast and other generous volunteers. The stall also acted as a place to publicise the show, sell tickets and tell people about the reasons they were doing this play. People who came to the stall were encouraged to express their opinions. Some people were shocked or offended by the word ‘vagina’ being used so liberally in a public place. Others were shocked at the statistics detailing violence against women that covered the wall behind the stall.
The two nights of the show were a great success. The feedback from audience members, both male and female, was tremendously positive. It affected how people felt and got them talking in the bar afterwards. Everyone who came to see the show learnt something and a generous sum of money was raised for the chosen charities.