Historically, theatre has been an integral part of activism and this world theatre day we want to talk about a play that has been ground breaking in the history of the women’s movement- Almost two decades ago, Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues- a collection of monologues about women’s sexuality that spans from having orgasms, to giving birth, to being raped – was performed for the first time. Since then , ‘the Vagina Monologues’ has grown into a revolution of women sharing real life stories of women to educate, inspire and put an end to sexual violence. Eve Ensler conducted more than 200 interviews before she shaped them into a series of conversations about their bodies, sexual experiences and of course their Vaginas.
“To love women, to love our vaginas, to know them and touch them and be familiar with who we are and what we need. To satisfy ourselves, to teach our lovers to satisfy us, to be present in our vaginas, to speak of them out loud, to speak of their hunger and pain and loneliness and humor, to make them visible so they cannot be ravaged in the dark without great consequence, so that our center, our point, our motor, our dream, is no longer detached, mutilated, numb, broken, invisible, or ashamed.”- says Eve Ensler
Vagina Monologues was phenomenal in its role in breaking the stigma and shaming usually attached to speaking the word ‘vagina’; it has played an integral role in providing young women with a safe space to explore stories and talk about their bodies. The success of this play is a perfect example of the role that theatre can play in breaking silences and initiating conversations on otherwise uncomfortable issues.
Inspired by its success, the organization Advocates for Youth has been collecting hundreds of personal stories through its 1 in 3 Campaign; the stories are brought to stage by a play called Out of Silence- composed of 13 different scenes about abortion each based on real women’s experience. Like Ensler’s play, Out of Silence is made up of vignettes that each illustrates a different woman’s experience, ranging from comedic to serious to tragic. Out of Silence is an attempt to create a similar space for the women who have chosen not to continue with a pregnancy. Read more about this here http://thinkprogress.org/culture/2015/01/22/3613708/vagina-monologues-abortion/
What we need today are success stories, more women coming out and talking about their experiences of ending an unwanted pregnancy and then carrying on with their lives and theatre provides the medium to take these stories forward. Forced motherhood is a form of violence and it’s only through having conversations around the issue we can break the stigma attached to it.
Also read here a review of another interesting initiative – http://asap-asia.org/blog/breaking-the-silence-a-review/#sthash.lR2SdZVT.dpbs