Does the word make you uncomfortable? It makes a lot of people uncomfortable. But why?
Photos courtesy Amber Brown
The 2015 cast of “The Vagina Monologues” is made up of Jillian Guthrie (from top left), Dorothy Crookshank, Maureen Stanton-Alexander, Becca Martin-Brown, Phyllis Moraga, Rae Hahn, Rebecca Hahn and (bottom row from left) Kate Lucariello, Patti Corcelli, Kodi Price, Amber Brown, Lauren Little Levine and Robin Milam Weinmann.
‘The Vagina Monologues’
WHEN — 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE — Eureka Springs City Auditorium at 36 S. Main St.
COST — $25-$35
INFO — eventbrite.com
After all, the vagina is a human body part just like any other. It's an organ that connects the uterus to the outside world. It's part of sexual intercourse. Babies come into the world through it. It's a source of pleasure.
How can the vagina be a part of so many wonderful human experiences, yet also the at center of the worst kinds of pain? Why does this female organ live at the intersection of joy and despair?
That's what a group of actresses will ask the audience this weekend as they put on their big girl panties and reintroduce "The Vagina Monologues" to Eureka Springs.
The episodic play first opened in 1996 in New York City. The off-Broadway production, written by Eve Ensler, is a collection of monologues created from more than 200 interviews conducted around the world. Performed for the first time in Eureka Springs in 2005, "The Vagina Monologues" is known to be raw and emotional and doesn't shy away from its focus.
"I personally find it to be unbelievable that these 'subjects' are still considered taboo," says director Janet Alexander. "Every instance of memory or experience spoken of in these monologues should be in our country's common vernacular by now, spoken about to our children and addressed in public without censure."
The topics of the monologues range from the most pleasurable to the unimaginable, she says, and according to Lorna Trigg-Hirsch, one of the founders of the Eureka Springs Red Tent Sisters, are meant to both entertain and educate.
"The monologues are just wonderful because they reach out to all women, young getting their menses for their first time to older women and birth," she says. "They're high notes and low notes for things that come up for all women -- everything from birthing to rape."
The Red Tent Sisters is a group of women in Eureka Springs joining a national movement of women's groups that have sprung up in the last 10 years. The group's aim is to empower women, give them a sense of community and a place to simply talk, Trigg-Hirsch says.
A yurt donated by Marcie Brewster provides a meeting place for these women at Fire Om Earth in Eureka Springs, she says, but money from more than just yard sales was required for its construction.
"We needed a big fundraiser, related to women and supporting women, and I remembered 'The Vagina Monologues,'" she said. "I approached Janet, who had done the show before in 2005, and asked if she would direct it again. She said it was a great idea."
The fundraiser will not only support the additional building required to construct the yurt but will benefit a broader range of women, some of whom have suffered due to their gender, Trigg-Hirsch says. Some of the proceeds from the show will go to support the Purple Flower in Berryville, a domestic violence resource and support center, and to the Carroll County Safety Network, she says.
But beyond performing for a good cause, the women behind the 2015 reincarnation of "The Vagina Monologues" hope that audience members -- women, men and "the average vagina-friendly public" -- will leave the performance with an open heart, mind and mouth.
"At its core, it publicly displays issues held in private for too long," Alexander says. "And with this comes the hope to open the conversational gates to create a larger awareness of what woman are experiencing around the world. Plain and simple, [the monologues] represent 'every woman.'"
"The monologues are just basically meant for people who want to sort of connect with the rarity of women's paths and what we as women come across in all aspects of our lives," Trigg-Hirsch adds. "The people who should come see the show are not just women, but people who love good theater."
NAN What's Up on 03/20/2015