‘The miracle of V-Day, like The Vagina Monologues, is that it happened because it had to happen’.
‘Introduction’ to The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
I had the pleasure of going to see a production of Eve Ensler’s world-famous play, The Vagina Monologues, last month during V-Day – a global movement, born out of the success of The Vagina Monologues, held around Valentine’s Day each year to raise awareness and end violence against women and girls. This particular production was to raise money for the Hong Kong Helpers Campaign, which helps to promote the rights of local Foreign Domestic Workers – a pressing concern in Hong Kong, particularly in the light of the recent Erwiana case.
This particular production was held at the Premium Sofa Club – a name which perfectly encapsulates the venue. In the basement of what looked like an unassuming, residential building in Sheung Wan, dozens of mismatched sofas and chairs were crammed into a tiny space. Luckily, arriving slightly late, me and my friend nabbed seats right at the front. The play itself was performed by a mixture of professional to first-time actors, from women representing many areas of the globe. For some you could visibly see their nerves, though this only added to the authenticity of the play. They were all holding their monologues on cards they had individually decorated to highlight that these stories are from real interviews, real women. As Eve Ensler mentions in the introduction to her play (which she performed in when it was first produced):
‘I had to hold 5-by-8 cards in my hands all through the performance every night, even though I had the piece memorised. It was as if the women I had interviewed were made present by those cards, and I needed them there with me’.
The stories in this play were varied and sent me on a roller coaster of emotions. However, the overall experience was empowering. Learning to talk freely, without flinching, about taboo and painful subjects – from orgasms, to shaving to the more damaging invasion and abuse of the vagina – Eve Ensler was astounded by the response she got. She was amazed by how many women openly talked about their vagina’s when given the chance.
Going to see The Vagina Monologues was definitely the best way to spend Valentines Day and the fact that Ensler allows people to put on productions over that period without the need for copyright has made it spread around the globe. I will be keeping my eyes peeled for another production next year!
I also came across Eve Ensler’s wonderful talk at the WOW Festival this year on their youtube channel. She is such a brilliant orator as she talks over her own abuse as a child, to fighting cancer and setting up the One Billion Rising project – which claims to be the biggest mass action to end violence against women in human history. An artist and activist, Ensler has stayed true to what she does best, which is inspiring people – men and women alike – all over the world. I urge anyone reading this to watch her talk: