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The Vagina Monologues is a play that is living; it breathes, transforms and reaches out. As part of the global activist movement V-Day, it is unlike any other theatrical event. Sure, it is not the theatrical event of the year. It is, nevertheless, a vital vision for its vendetta, continuing to fight until all forms of violence against women has stopped. The performance is part of a University wide campaign which started weeks before the opening night, promoting awareness of the V-Day movement which was borne out of Eve Hensler’s pioneering play which she wrote in 1996 based on her conversation and interviews with over 200 women about their most private parts, for a most public piece of theatre. As her most famous work, the Vagina Monologues has not just inspired a global movement- it has also been translated into over 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries, indicating its success and significance in initiating social change.
It is no surprise then that the expectation of a sold-out event was met thanks to the relentless work of its cast and contributors in publicising the event not just as a play produced at the Nuffield Theatre but as a play that is part of a grander cause. More than a decade later, the anticipation for the play is still rife; there is a buzz in the air and an excitement present within the audience which comprised all types from every sexual identity and age. When the opening V-Day film clip starts playing, it feels like a long-awaited ritual has begun. The spectators and performers were about to participate in a candid conversation concerning ‘clunges’ and a cry to reclaim the c-word.
Much praise and respect should be awarded to the large cast of 31 exposing themselves like never before. Their bravery to lay bare is admirable and is on a par with their commitment to their voices being heard in the auditorium and beyond. They represent more than the characters they portrayed, for those monologues reveal a multitude of discoveries that women from all backgrounds can relate to and that men could learn from. We nonetheless realise that sexual politics does not abide by a schism- this is a play for the worldwide community and not an attack on men. As a tradition that started in 2010, the production of the monologues has been refined to the point as an artistic endeavour that solely depends on the simplicity of story telling. At its most basic form, we are reminded that theatre is a powerful tool that is all too often undermined as entertainment. And yet, the vivacious reception consisted of laughs and a few glazed eyes. It was evident that the cast wanted to do nothing but justice to Hensler’s text.
To have spent that Valentine’s day evening in another way now seems absurd and it would be just as absurd to single out individual stellar performances and moments. It is a collective memory that is remembered as one. United as one, Lancaster looks forward to welcoming back this production until that day it is performed not as a indicator of atrocity but merely in light of the positive changes we all deserve to witness.