The Vagina Monologues by playwright and activist Eve Ensler were first performed in 1994 in New York. Four years later, Ensler established V-Day to end violence against women and girls and to raise awareness and funds through benefit productions worldwide. The American Women's Club of Berlin will stage benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues this February. I talked with director Molly Moylan Brown.
"Eve Ensler did hundreds of interviews where she asked women to talk about their vaginas. She distilled these interviews into what became a series of monologues; a variety of monologues celebrating, but also talking about the challenges and the difficulties they’d experienced in terms of their sexuality. So, it has both: enormous pathos but also a lot of humor."
"Molly, what is your motivation to stage The Vagina Monologues in Berlin?" I ask her.
"In light of the current climate, what I would call 'strident nationalism' and its effects on women making decisions about their own bodies, I felt it was really important to stage this production. It feels relevant and it feels necessary. And what I most like about this piece is that it's at the intersection of art and activism."
"What do you hope to achieve with your performance?"
"One in seven German women experience sexual abuse - one in six in the United States. It's important to bring attention to the causes and to the possible solutions. And this production, what it inspires us to do, is to develop at a grass roots level, ways of addressing violence against women and girls in our local communities," Brown tells me.
"The V-Day movement has grown immensely over these past 19 years. More than 600 V-Day events are produced annually. What's next?"
"I guess the question arises, 'What will a world free of violence against women look like, and how do we get there?' Do we donate? Do we volunteer? Do we legislate. We can't accept this kind of violence.
"The importance of a play like this is housed in the idea of the importance of the arts itself," Brown says, "especially our shared experience in the theater give us an opportunity to share our feelings and put ourselves in the shoes of somebody else and experience empathy and this is the key for us to find common ground."
The Vagina Monologues directed by Molly Moylan Brown will be performed Friday February 24th and Saturday, February 25th at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy House of Arts and Culture in Berlin. All proceeds go to Terre Des Femmes.