Sunday, February 17, 2008

Vaginas of Color on U Street

I went to go see The Vagina Monologues show last night at the Lincoln Theater in D.C. I wrote about this week. It was a cast entirely composed of African American women. The performance was really great, and it really reminds me that Eve Ensler's play is a bit like feminism itself. It's not perfect, so it keeps evolving, changing, and adapting to various audiences. Feminism isn't one message. It's an ongoing discussion.

This performance made an effort to reach out to men, getting sponsorship from Men Can Stop Rape, and pulling in the hilarious Michael Colyar to emcee. (I also saw a fair number of husbands and boyfriends attending the performance as well.) He praised his wife and admitted he was a crack addict who was in his seventeenth year of sobriety. They also had introductions by a representative from an organization called Our Place, which helps transition women from the District of Columbia back home after serving time in jail or prison, and the very sassy Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. "Violence against women and girls is the same here and the world over," Norton said.

The highlight monologue of the evening had to be Vanessa Williams of Soul Food who donned a British accent when she performed "The Vagina Workshop." Her performance was funny and brilliant. Another standout monologue was done by Iona Morris, director of this performance, who played the lesbian sex worker. Sherri Shephard did a good job of performing "My Angry Vagina," but I found Star Jones' reading of "my short skirt is not an invitation" to be stiff. (Also, I just want to feed her these days.) Notably, they left out the transgender monologue.

The new monologue this year was a group reading at the end about New Orleans. "New Orleans," they said, "is the vagina of America." The reading compared New Orleans' (and the Gulf South) relationship with the rest of America with an abusive relationship. The play ended with emotional gospel singing. One revolutionary part of the monologue talked about the economic abuse the people of New Orleans are experiencing. The evolution to begin including perspective on how women are experiencing economic abuse in various ways -- highlighted most by the situation in New Orleans -- is something that hasn't always been a the forefront of feminism. Economic abuse is just as relevant as other forms of abuse.

Ensler's organization, V-Day, is organizing a march in New Orleans April 11 and 12 called "V to the Tenth." Celebrities expected are Salma Hayek, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Hudson, Glenn Close, Julia Stiles and others.

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