Local TV personality Tricia Swenson is used to talking about V-rated topics, as in v for vanilla. The weather forecast, for example, and what skiing conditions one can expect on the hill. As for another v-word — vagina — that’s not a term she’s likely to have said on TV8 much. But that didn’t stop her from agreeing to take part in the “Vagina Monologues,” a Vail Valley Theater Company production taking part at Montana’s in Avon tonight and Saturday evening.
“I’m not sure what I’m getting myself into it,” said Swenson during a phone interview this week, as she chuckled. “I basically said ‘yes’ because it wasn’t a musical and I don’t sing. I saw the show at the Vilar Center a long time ago, but I couldn’t remember anything about it.”
Swenson joins a cast of notable women in the area, including four-time Olympic ski racer Sarah Schleper, who said the thrill of being on stage reminds her of being in the starting gate; Kaylee Brennand, the director of the show as well as a participant; Carol Conger, a nurse, professor and midwife who has been in the valley for more than 20 years; Nicole Whitaker, the director of sales and marketing at the Manor Vail Lodge; Gena Buhler, a former Broadway booking agent in New York City who now is the theater director for the Vilar Performing Arts Center; and Martha Brassel, the festival manager of the Vail International Dance Festival.
“Growing up in an Irish Catholic, patriarchal household, my mother and I always joked about the ‘no penis, no vote’ rule on my father’s side of the family so I love the opportunity to participate in the ‘Vagina Monologues’ and attach a voice to the female anatomy,” said Brassel, who has spent the last 15 years in the valley supporting and promoting the arts through her positions with the Vilar Center, TV8 and the Vail International Dance Festival. “I’m very excited for this opportunity to take the stage.”
Don’t be afraid
The “Vagina Monologues” is an episodic play written by Eve Ensler in 1996. It is made up of a varying number of monologues read by women. Each of the monologues deals with an aspect of the feminine experience, touching on matters such as sex, love, birth, orgasm, the various common names for the vagina, or simply as a physical aspect of the body. A recurring theme throughout the piece is the vagina as a tool of female empowerment, and the ultimate embodiment of individuality.
“Having interaction with professional productions of the show, I was excited to be able to be a part of bringing this show to the Valley,” Buhler said. “Since its inception in 1996, it has been a showcase of women’s individuality and empowerment and it’s an honor to be a part of it.”
Buhler has some advice for the audience.
“Be ready to be shocked,” she said. “We are reading monologues based off of true stories and events; things that happen to women and girls every day all over the world. It shows a picture of violence to women, but puts it in a light of positivity, individuality and ultimate female empowerment through tales of their vagina’s experiences, both good and bad.”
Buhler likes her specific monologue because it takes the audience on a journey: “from horrible things that happen over the young girls life to the moment of joy and positive experience and healing that is a life-changing moment in the girls life.”
For Swenson, the subject matter of her monologues is a bit lighter hearted and “funnier” than some of the others.
“One is called ‘My Angry Vagina,’ and the other is called ‘Hair,’” she said.
And while the “v” word is used extensively in the production, Buhler says you shouldn’t be afraid.
“It’s shocking and we use the ‘V’ word a lot, but we all have them, well all of us girls do, and it’s such a good show that supports a truly important issue in the world today: violence towards women.”
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or firstname.lastname@example.org.