Eve Ensler's nickname is the 'vagina lady'. She remembers standing in a shoe store in New York and someone shouting: 'There's the vagina lady! Vaginas are her vocation. She has succeeded in making a private part unmissably public, not only in the States but all over the world.
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Here are some of the things that have happened since she wrote The Vagina Monologues for an off-off Broadway theatre in The Monologues, a minute distillation of more than interviews with women about their vaginas, have been performed in 20 countries and translated into 20 languages. Ensler has launched a global movement to stop violence against women and, on 'V Day' each year, charity performances of the monologues raise money for her cause.
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She has emerged as a phenomenal mover and shaker, with the play at her service. In the introduction to the British edition of the Monologues published by Virago on 3 May she describes V Day's inception: 'As I travelled with the piece to city after city, country after country, hundreds of women waited after the show to talk to me about their lives. The play had somehow freed up their memories, pain and desire.
Night after night I heard the same stories - women being raped as teenagers, in college, as little girls, as elderly women; women who had finally escaped being beaten to death by their husbands; women who were terrified to leave; women who were taken sexually before they were even conscious of sex I began to feel insane, as if a door had opened to some underworld She couldn't stand it.
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She had to act. Now she is coming to London to perform the Monologues - ostensibly for the last time - in a four-week season at the New Ambassadors. After that, the show will be performed by trios of celebrities for three-week stints until September. The show's producer Sally Greene does not want to drop names but Jerry Hall's interest has been widely reported and, if America is anything to go by, casting should prove a piece of cake. Glenn Close who Ensler boasts got '2, people to stand up and chant the word cunt " describes the effect of The Vagina Monologues on her: 'I feel my life has changed.
You don't just hook up with Eve, you become part of her crusade. There is a corps of us who are Eve's army.
Jane S. Webster
She's leading women and the world to a different consciousness of the essence of women. Not everyone is as enthusiastic. There are actors who refuse to join in. The 'V-word' itself may be partly to blame. Ensler once noted: 'Women call up for tickets to the Monologues; men ask for tickets to the 'Vagina Chronicles'.
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I like the sound of Vagina Chronicles - it's jauntily medieval - but fall into the first category of ticket buyers. She answers the phone in what seems an absurdly over-sexy voice until I realise she is ill; she has worn her voice out with lecturing all over the States about violence towards women.
I express unease but do not add that I worry the piece trades on taboo. Nor do I say that I find the tone of the monologues uneven - often whimsical, fey, showy. Ensler once described herself as a playwright with 'exhibitionist tendencies'. How common is it to feel squeamish?
Jane S. Webster | Fortress Press
It is partly prudishness. For a long time vaginas have not been visible, part of the dialogue, part of the equation. It may take 30 seconds to get over, sometimes it will take the whole show. Different countries react positively to different pieces in the monologues. The section on 'hair' which begins 'You cannot love a vagina unless you love hair' was, Ensler says, 'really big' in Rome. One cannot stop something one does not know about. Most people turn to the sacred scriptures of their faith with the hope of finding insight, enlightenment, even encouragement.
Alas, what shines through here is the way in which women, Christian and Jewish among others, have been mistreated for millennia: violated, raped, used, objectified, and thrown away for newer models. Admittedly, the Lady Parts stories, based on scripture, were written by late modern women whose own experiences and awareness lie behind the telling. Apparently there is not. Gender oppression is ubiquitous and there is no reason to think scriptures would be exempt.
I was heartened to find a few lesbian scenes in the texts. This is a welcome advance in the 21 st century for which Dr.
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