V is for victory
Until Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” made their debut in 1996, vagina was a word saved for feminist-literature discussions, doctor’s offices and self-help groups. Now, it’s bandied about on the radio, over dinner, during intermission – people are talking about vaginas. “The Vagina Monologues” are being performed at the Vilar Center this Feb. 25 and 26.
Ensler wrote the play, which is performed by three women atop bar stools. The stage is stark, the dress is black or white, the feet are barefoot. Based on her interviews with more than 200 women, Ensler created several monologues. Some are funny, some poignant, some downright sad. All connect to the crowd in a real way.
“The Vagina Monologues” were performed in Aspen last month, with Starla Benford, Kristen Lee Kelly and Shawn Colvin. The evening opened with a hearty greeting to all of the daring penises who were willing to sit through the 90-minute barrage of the “v” word. The women in the crowd, some dripping furs and diamonds, others sporting fleece and beanies, showed their support of the men with catcalls and clapping. Looking around at all of the estrogen-powered raucousness, I knew we were in for quite an evening. When you attend the monologues, you don’t just hear about vaginas; you’re asked to celebrate them.
“I’ll bet you’re worried,” sang Benford, with a sly look. “I was worried, too. I was worried about vaginas. I was worried about vaginas, and even more worried that we don’t think about them. There’s so much darkness and secrecy surrounding them, like the Bermuda triangle. Nobody ever reports back from there.”
As the three women went on to illustrate from their perches, vaginas are sources of unlimited power and unlimited pain. They’re vulnerable, hungry, hopeful, sensitive. They have names – lots of names, some of which are unprintable. They make some women moan and cry; some women don’t want to talk about down there. Why would you even ask?
The performance goes quickly, staged without an intermission. Some reviewers – male, as it happens –have disliked the fact they use the v word so much (128 times in one show, according to Newsweek). And it’s certainly a barrage of the word; but unlike some performances, the show doesn’t meander from topic to topic. The subject is announced and explored. There is no deviation – vaginas rule the show.
If the actresses weren’t so strong, the evening would fall flat. But they carry it, with strength and poise. Whether they’re portraying a dominatrix or an abused and terrified little girl, the women shine, beckoning the audience to travel the road with them. Vaginas – there’s so need to be worried. You have one or you don’t, but all can laugh and cry.
“The Vagina Monologues” will be performed at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek Feb. 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now.