“The Vagina Monologues”, 20 years on

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IN 1996, sitting on a high-backed stool in a tiny theatre in downtown New York, Eve Ensler declared that she was “worried about vaginas”. What followed was “The Vagina Monologues”, a fictional series of accounts based on more than 200 interviews the playwright had conducted with women of different races and ages about their relationship with their bodies. Stories ranged from a chorus of girls’ experiences of their first period to a woman raging against the pressure to shave her pubic hair. One woman shared traumatic childhood sexual experiences that she felt were ameliorated by an adolescent liaison with an older woman, and Ms Ensler shared an account of the birth of her granddaughter. The performance was clearly designed to provoke—riffing on the c-word and revelling in the discomfort generated by such a frank discussion—but it was also designed to amuse and move. An early review in the New York Times proclaimed that “sex just doesn’t get funnier, or more poignant.”

The play—billed as a “whirlwind tour of a…Continue reading

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