Hold on to your knickers, ladies! This year’s production of The Vagina Monologues promises to bring Eve Ensler’s 1996 off-Broadway show into the 21st century with an ambitious director, a talented cast and a whole lot of emotion as the key ingredients.
The Vagina Monologues is a collection of monologues whose main premise has to do with any aspect imaginable related to the vagina. Topics range from rape and mutilation to masturbation and sex. They can be laugh-out-loud funny or viscerally emotional. One monologue’s focus is the celebration of the usually taboo word “cunt.” Every monologue, however, has one similar underlying theme: the empowerment of women.
“The Vagina Monologues express the need for community within the women’s scene,” said Kendall Savage, the director of the production. Savage is a second-year theatre student at Concordia and it is her first time directing a show. But do not underestimate this director’s abilities; Savage graduated from Toronto’s Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts and the Players Academy, and confidently asserts that she’s ready for her first directing opportunity.
“I love directing,” said Savage. “I love it more than acting. I love having an idea and bringing it to life. It’s a high. It’s better than anything.” Though Savage admits that it would not be her first choice of play, she was eager to bring The Vagina Monologues out of the 1990s. Savage “tweaked” certain parts of the script, editing out repetitions and modernizing the sometimes-dated language. Also omitted from her production’s recipe: the usual black and red colour scheme and, more specifically, red boas.
“I’m under the impression that there’s always this very stereotypical ‘I’m a woman!’ undercurrent [in The Vagina Monologues],” said Savage. “Not that that doesn’t work. It’s fun and lighthearted, but it’s been done. I’m trying desperately to move away from the stereotype presentation of the monologues.”
Her method of escape? A strong, talented cast made up of six Concordia theatre students whose chemistry and dedication to the show’s performance was evident in their rehearsal last Wednesday night. The emotion they emanate in the chorus-like monologue entitled “Say It,” describing the women forced into prostitution by the Japanese government during Second World War, will leave the audience in a speechless horror, gasping for air.
“The whole nature of it is very different from any other show that we would be doing at Concordia,” said actress Lindsey Huebner. “It’s an assembly of monologues and we found ways to sort of work them together as a team, which is really cool and different from most other Vagina Monologues that you will see.”
“It’s been a chaotic process,” said fellow Vagina Monologues’ actress Norah Paton, “But if we didn’t have such a strong team, this show probably wouldn’t be happening right now.”
For Savage, directing The Vagina Monologues has been smooth. Finding a venue for the performance, on the other hand, was not as easy. Since it is not a production by Concordia’s theatre program, funding is limited, coming entirely from Concordia’s Volunteers in Action. While it was hosted last year in the D.B. Clark Theatre in the Hall building, the play is returning to The Hive at Loyola, where it was staged two years ago, and coming to the Grey Nuns residence downtown.
VIA is donating all of the proceeds to Women Aware, a nonprofit organization for the benefit of victims of domestic abuse and City of Joy, a women’s safehouse in Congo.
For a theatrical experience that is sure to please vaginas from all walks of life (and other organs, too) head out to the Hive at Concordia’s Loyola campus on March 18, 19 and 20 or to the Grey Nuns Residence March 26 and 27. Tickets cost $15 for Concordia students and $20 for the general public.