I had a major weekend of celebrating V-Day, the global campaign behind the annual flurry of performances of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, which this weekend I saw for my third and fourth times. I surprised my mama on Friday night by coming to her performance of "The Flood." She did so very well, connecting with a character who is so different from herself, not just in age, but in exuberance. Our dear friend Cecile finished the performance with a respectful and heartfelt monologue honoring Myriam Merlet, who was a Haitian V-Day activist who died in the 2010 Haiti earthquake. It was so sweet to see this group of women come together and feel a real bond. I think my mom and Cecile came out of the experience with new friends.
Photo of my mama by Daniel Knight, Studio B Photography
Saturday night, we saw another production of The Vagina Monologues at Evansville's Victory Theatre, this one directed by Steve Small. It was delightful, too. The interesting thing about the Monologues is discovering how the women who share the stories give them individual flavors and how different audiences respond differently. In my mom's performance of "The Flood," there was a little laughing, but she helped the audience understand the sadness of a woman's being so embarrassed by her body that she "closed up shop" for life. The performance at the Victory shed more light on the hilarity of some of those lines. On the whole, the audience at the Victory was a lot more giggly.
Also interesting to note is the selection of the monologues. I've always before seen the performance at the Victory, where they don't include the monologue called "Say It," which shares the story of "comfort women" in Japan during World War II. The Friday night performance included that one (which I found incredibly moving), but didn't include "The Memory of Her Face," which uses three monologues and an epilogue to explore violence against women in Iraq, Pakistan and Mexico, and which was included at the Victory.
Since my talented photographer Papa, Daniel Knight, was the official photographer of the Victory production (as he has been in the past), we went to the Afterglow party. It had a great, warm atmosphere and I met some truly delightful people, including a high school English educator who is also a Teacher Fellow for Washington, D.C.'s United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. One particular delight was getting to chit chat my friend Holly Dunn Pendleton, whom I photographed for a story for Evansville Living. Holly is one of Evansville's most well-known warriors for women. She founded Holly's House, a refuge for women and children who are victims of intimate violence and a safe place for them to share their stories with law enforcers.
On the whole, the weekend was a treat of celebrating womanhood and honoring the suffering of so many other women who've been victims. If you've never seen The Vagina Monologues, I hope you can find a performance near you to hear these amazing stories.