The beginning of 2013 left many of us with a bitter taste in our mouths as millions watched the news of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai’s attempted assassination in Pakistan. As an activist she dealt with promoting education for girls, the Delhi gang-rape case and the ongoing ‘War On Women’ in the United States. These are exactly the kind of issues V-Day tries to raise awareness about and fight against. In fact, one of the ways they plan on doing so is by putting on shows like the upcoming production of The Vagina Monologues, being held at Café Cléopâtre later this week.
For those of you who are unaware, The Vagina Monologues is the brainchild of playwright Eve Ensler, who composed the monologues in 1996 after interviewing hundreds of women on subjects such as virginity, sexuality, rape and love. The monologues have since been continually tweaked and added to in order to address topical issues such as women’s oppression under Taliban rule or the social integration of transgender people in society.
This year’s production has been in the works ever since director Emily Schon, a theatre-development student at Concordia, participated as an actress in last year’s show.
“This production is very exciting for me as a director [because] as part of the theatre department, we struggle to find work with a lot of female characters,” she explains.
Cast member and first year theatre student, Leah Goldie, adds that “there are quite a few plays that are all male and no one questions this,” expressing how thrilled she is to finally be part of an all female cast.
As the themes of the monologues vary between hilarity and horror, Schon made it a priority to create a safe and intimate environment for women; instilling trust in order to embark in the process of undertaking and discussing the personal, gritty subjects brought forth. Koumbie, another cast member, explains: “We eased into it. We had to discuss the content before we could begin to discuss the show.”
And what a show it promises to be. The 75 minutes will include dance, originally composed music, spoken word and yes — our yearly dose of the notorious triple orgasm. The show is “a celebration of women, of young women,” Schon says. Composed of nine monologues, the topics will include Bosnian rape camps, ovarian cancer and vagina workshops. “[The monologues] resonated with me because these are real stories. You can connect with them because these things really happened,” Koumbie says.
When asked about the choice of venue, the infamous Café Cléopâtre, Schon said “What better place to talk about vaginas than in the oldest strip club in Montreal!” In keeping with the venue, the play has a cabaret feel as well as a sense of intimacy, as the monologues frequently directly address the audience from a stage that is at knee level with them. Schon hopes to create an atmosphere that allows for an open and wide discourse on the successes and struggles of feminism.
Proceeds from the show, sponsored by Volunteers in Action, will go to Herstreet, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless women in Montreal by providing shelter, meals and counseling, along with many other services.
The Vagina Monologues will run for one night only on March 24 at 8 p.m. at Café Cléopâtre, 1230 St. Laurent Blvd. Tickets for students are $10 dollars and $12 dollars at the door.