The Vagina Monologues, an episodic play that has been performed by thousands of women in more than 140 countries, is scheduled to be performed in Somerville this Saturday.
Elizabeth Hunter, the artistic director of Somerville’s Theatre@First and the producer of this production of The Vagina Monologues, said this is the theatre’s first time performing Eve Ensler’s popular drama.
“Theatre@First is very excited to take part in [the movement] and to get our own voices into the community and into the public sphere,” Hunter said.
Hunter said this year marks the play’s 15th anniversary and is celebrated by the One Billion Rising movement, which calls for one billion people to take a stand opposing violence against women in response to the U.N. estimate that one billion women have been the victim of violence. She said that for the first time, the drama’s creator is allowing local cast members to write and perform their own personal stories related to violence against women.
“I think that people think violence against women and girls happens to ‘other people,’” Hunter said. “[When we see our] own people stand up and say, ‘I am one of the one billion, I am one of the people who has been the victim of violence, this happened to me, here I am,’ . . . that’s incredibly powerful.”
Six of the 24 local women in the cast will share their own experiences as part of the performance. Natalia Musatova, a Newton resident and member of the cast, said having the chance to share her story with an audience is both difficult and rewarding.
“Every woman approached it differently with her own experiences and what she decided to share with the audience,” Musatova said. “It does take courage to share something so personal, and some of the statements are very personal, but they open you up as a human being to others.”
The Vagina Monologues discuss the female experience through a variety of stories, poems and monologues. Hunter said that one of the show’s purposes is to present a venue for safe discussion of female sexuality and how to stop violence against women. Hunter said it also becomes a place where people can laugh and talk about sexuality in a lighthearted manner.
“All of The Vagina Monologues are sad, but they’re also really funny and engaging,” Hunter said. “There’s a wide range of female experience. It tries to capture at least some of the facets of that experience.”
Elizabeth Cole, a Somerville resident and cast member, recommends the play to everyone. She said that while writing her statement to share with the audience, she tried to focus not just on the difficult realities of violence, but also on the hope of one day overcoming it as a society.
“You know [the show] is going to be hard. It’s going to pull at your heart strings, and the play is going to raise some really tough questions about where we are as a society,” Cole said. “In my piece, I try to focus not just on the challenges we still face, but [also on] the distance we’ve come.”
As of Thursday, the theater was still planning to stage the production Saturday, despite the coming blizzard. Please visit Theatre@First's website for information regarding weather-induced show cancellations or postponements.
Theatre@First is scheduled to perform The Vagina Monologues at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 9 at the Somerville Theatre. For tickets, please visit Theatre@First’s website or visit the Somerville Theatre box office. All proceeds will benefit the Somerville Commission for Women and the V-Day Spotlight Foundation, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.