Lets start with the word vagina! This is the warning by Eve Ensler, playwright and actress from New York, in her now famous play The Vagina Monologues, which has only just finished at the Vittoria Theatre in Rome.
The monologues take shape from this aseptic and unsatisfactory word, which sounds like an infection, or even like a medical instrument. They are drawn from more than 200 interviews with women of all ages which Eve Ensler conducted herself. Different women recount their own experiences and also how they are each connected to the eternal enigma called female sexuality. Abused, exploited, hidden and sometimes even forgotten, the vagina represents the most intimate and concealed sexual ravine whose features remain unknown to the majority of its owners; many dont have the courage or the opportunity to discover themselves.
This ridiculous word - which if muttered during sex, in an attempt to be politically correct, would kill the passion immediately - does not manage to convey the sensations and feelings linked to this mysterious corner of the woman inside the woman. The anecdotes deal with meaningful and sometimes dramatic stories ranging from: My vagina was my village, a moving narration of the violence suffered by Bosnian women returning from rape camps, to exhilarating tales of a homosexual masseuse expert in female orgasms.
The shifting tone of the interviews hints that the relationship we have with ourselves can oscillate between rejection and guilt, and how meeting with loving and open people can teach us to cherish our own sexuality without foolish prejudice. At the age of 10, Eve herself suffered abuse from her father, and this torment immediately established a motive for her involvement in the feminist battle during the seventies. Her activism does not only exist in Broadway; on the contrary, since 1996 she has seized the opportunity to put on stage the fruits of her conversations with women of all ages. These women were initially suspicious and reluctant to speak; however, they were eventually able to recount stories easily that had previously remained a secret. One in particular was the discussion about the origin of the embarrassment of ones own sexuality, it often stems from the frustrated behaviour of the first boyfriend, or perhaps it is due to the emasculating words of the mother, a woman herself, but, maybe not from the waist down.
The much talked about show also gives an insight into the past; in medieval times judges put forward such indisputable truths about witchcraft. They believed the discovery of the clitoris on the body of the accused, a small mysterious growth named the Devils Nipple, was a sure sign of his presence. From millions of tales about abuse, the monologues move to the uplifting experience recited by Eve herself, the adoptive mother of two children who assisted the tense and astonishing birth of her granddaughter. She was enraptured by the life given from this mysterious cavity.
This prism of emotion is transmitted to us skilfully by four actresses (two of whom are famous dubbing artists in Italy) with melodious voices; they are adorned with pink sashes and enclosed in a warm and welcoming atmosphere, which seems to suggest the intimate form of the woman in an elegant way that is far from being vulgar.
The production is taken care of by a woman; fundamental to her show is the combination of the use of black clothing worn by the performers, along with cones of light that surround the actresses; either selecting the recital of a single monologue or, when the narrations become unanimous, the spotlight flicks quickly form one interpreter to the other. A female show therefore, but certainly not feminist. This seems to be confirmed to us by the many men in the theatre. Theres not an equivalent show for men. - one of them tells us - the women are honest and sincere, the central focus is ignorance regardless of its origin. Another enthusiast comments, Well, at least I now know a little more about the other sex, women are so complicated and none of them want to ever talk about it!
The century-old veil has been torn, Eve Ensler and her women also show us a praiseworthy example of rare female solidarity, already displayed by the four interpreters who work in harmony with one another, far from trying to steal the show as is usual in the theatrical world. But their commitment does not end here, and it is also expressed on V-Day, an event centred around women to ponder the awareness of old-fashioned beliefs still perpetrated today in certain parts of the world: rape, beatings, genital mutilation and sexual slavery. This is an opportunity to raise awareness and money with the aim of helping women in tragic situations similar to those of Afghani, Kuwaiti and African women. Because, being a woman is not just about accomplishing goals and then reaping the benefits, it is equally important to help other women. Thank you Eve!