(Alexandria, MN) The Vagina Monologues is a collection of fictional, character-based pieces based on interviews with over 200 women. Eve Ensler, the show’s creator, spoke with women from a diverse range of ages and cultural backgrounds. These women shared their personal experiences with consensual and non-consensual sex, body image, genital mutilation and reproduction.
This play debuted in 1996 as a one-woman show. As the show’s popularity grew, ensembles of actresses started bringing it to politically active theaters and college campuses across the country. This play is even credited with launching the global movement known as V-Day. According the website, www.vday.org, the organization is a movement to end violence against women and girls.
Kristen Peterson, Jessica Chipman and Becky Byrne, of Dynamo Creative, became fast friends when they met during the production of Mamma Mia at the Andria Theatre. They continued to spend time together after the show wrapped and found themselves dreaming about future projects they could create together. These daydreams became Mastermind meetings that involved goal-setting both personally and collectively but also involved good, old-fashioned girl talk.
During one of these conversations they landed on the topic of their daughters. They talked about the different pressures facing their daughters that they, themselves, were not exposed to growing up - mainly social media and the constant need to be “plugged in.” Inevitably, the conversation veered toward the topic of sex and sexuality. How much should they share with their daughters and what is age appropriate and what they thought their daughters didn’t know but had heard from another source already. It was overwhelming. This, of course, led to bigger conversations about shame surrounding women's sexuality. “There has been so much coverage on the ‘Me, Too’ movement that it felt like the right time to do this show,” said Kristen. Becky added, “The three of us each have daughters and want them to know that it’s safe and okay to have authentic and sometimes, frank, conversations about the topics presented in the Vagina Monologues.”
They started to question why is it that men’s sexuality and virility is just accepted as fact. No more, no less, and no judgement by society at large. If women, however, show an equivalent enjoyment of their sexuality, or lack thereof, they are labeled a whore (strong virility) or a prude (less virility)? The women discussed their personal experiences, positive and negative, and how comfortable (or uncomfortable) they felt in their own bodies. How was their sexuality related to their sense of personal power or worth?
This is when the idea of performing The Vagina Monologues struck them. They were vaguely familiar with the play but didn’t know much about it beyond the stark title. They ordered the script to view and learned about how the monologues came into being and found the monologues to be thought-provoking, funny, uncomfortable and poignant. They decided collectively that this show was worth “being comfortable with being uncomfortable.” They wanted to feel the liberty of speaking freely, openly and confidently about women’s sexuality. Vagina is not a dirty word. It’s a body part - an important body part. It should feel safe to talk about it - not shameful.
Jessica is grateful to the local support of this show, “The Vagina Monologues could not take place without the cooperation from local businesses Venn Hagen and Yoga One and the organization, Ripple Minnesota, who is sponsoring this event.” Show dates are September 21st and 27th with two shows each night at 5 and 8pm at Yoga One (609 1/2 Broadway St- Alexandria). Each showtime will include a happy hour prior to the show with appetizers included in the price of each ticket. A cash bar with wine, beer and a non-alcoholic option will be available. Tickets are $30 and are available for purchase through the Ripple MN Facebook Page under the Vagina Monologues event. An under-21 ticket option is available for $20.