The Vagina Monologues: A Director's Narrative
I give way too much of my time to student theatre groups, time mostly dominated by pre-pubescent cis white males with their tongues up their own bum holes, flirting with me in their tragic attempt at that angsty Black Swan style director- actor relationship. Despite being tedious at best, this tiresome animalistic routine of late night panic over whether I was cast for my genuine acting ability and connection to the role at hand, or because I was wearing a top that showed my boobs and laughed a bit too much at his poor wit, has led me close to resenting acting and the way it makes me feel.
In an attempt to preserve the thrill of creating something unique and impactful, that can change the way a person thinks I took up producing and, more recently, directing. I am currently in the process of directing the Vagina Monologues, and its ease and simplicity has allowed me to change my perspective on shitty student theatre entirely.
The V.Day campaign-sponsored production has been on the scene since 1996 and was by the New York Times heralded as “Probably the most important piece of political theatre of the last decade.” Written by Eve Ensler, the episodic play takes a whirlwind tour through the depths of Vagina politics, starting on the outside with tales of hair removal, and landing the spot with a woman who just loves to make vaginas happy. The individual monologues, changing and rotating annually to suit the times, amounting this year to 17, invite women to talk about their bodies freely and without interruption, and create an unstoppable force of female genius.
Together with a pal for moral support, actual experience and impeccable vision, I have taken on the challenge of creating a good-vibes only vagina friendly chill zone arts space, through which we can all educate ourselves and bond over our mutual possession of a vagina. I am having a sick time. As a bunch of powerful sisters with the single goal of enjoying ourselves, making memories and paying homage to a fantastic piece of writing, it feels as though we’re smashing the patriarchy one monologue at a time.
It took this form of creative freedom for me to realise the seriousness of directing; comprehending the importance of a humble attitude and the space for creative freedom.
The girls in our group have really trusted us with the task of guiding them through rock-hard yet sensitive and extremely personal topics, and in return I hope we have given them the support they deserve. Throughout this all-female creative process, however, I have had flashbacks to masculine dominated rooms with unfriendly rehearsal hours and a lack of empathy for the depth of the task at hand. Why is it that something so human and delicate as understanding and embracing the thought processes and character traits of another, can be capitalised into a competitive and unfriendly environment? Why does it have to be so aggressively masculine?
I’m not here to announce that from now on, all plays should only be written, directed, produced, teched and acted by gals gals gals (although that would be pretty cool). I want to make a shout out for a mutual respect for the art at hand, the importance of what we’re trying to do and the project around us, and the mutual positive energy that should be bountiful. We do theatre to create, to explore ourselves and to learn from and trust others. It’s not about furthering your own personal agenda, and at no point should anyone feel uncomfortable showcasing their talents!
The Vagina Monologues are a fantastic opportunity for any and all women to come together and celebrate femininity. I urge you all to seek out your local performance! If you’ve missed it, there’s always next year.