Tuesday, February 13, 2007

V is for ...

Think, for a moment, of all the things it can be for. There's victory of course. It's so everywhere pop culturally, too. Just last year there was the trippier-than-thou V for Vendetta in which Natalie Portman shaves her head and is uncannily not annoying. Back in the day, there was the mini-series V, equally ridiculous and riveting, which was about the "visitors"... were they aliens? lizards? or the incarnation of our worst selves?

Of course, this time of year, our thoughts turn to V-Day on February 14, or, as I like to think of it, the Lousiest Excuse for a Holiday an Occasion Even Before Hallmark Got Involved and Surely St. Valentine Is Rolling In His Grave...

But there's another V-Day, this month, and it is all courtesy of Eve Ensler, writer-activist-woman extraordinaire, who a decade ago launched the phenomenon that is The Vagina Monologues.

I first heard of it when an old friend from college (where are you, Ms. Torres???) saw the production in New York back when no one had heard of it and she immediately sent me (in Los Angeles, then) her program and such with info about the play and the movement and was all breathlessly "Linda, you'll love this!" Naturally, I did. And since then, of course it's become so famous it's even known by many people who don't run in the feminist/activist/theatrical/women's studies/political/bookstore/college/sassy circles in which I so often run.

But it was on a total whim of finals-studying-procrastination last December that I auditioned for Hofstra's production. And, well, here I am. We're deep into rehearsals and I am pleased as punch to be doing this show with such a wonderful group of women.

For those of you who don't know thing one about it, start here:

Eve Ensler was disturbed, as well she should be, by the sheer amount of violence against women in this world. I think Ensler's initial hypothesis was that part of the reason there is so much violence specifically directed at a body part is that people are so uncomfortable with the mere word "vagina." Let alone talking about it, which leads to a chicken-and-egg thing of being afraid to talk about rape and violence, and so on.

Some of the show is funny, some of it is sad, some parts are touching, and some are shocking. It is vivid, and relevant. Some people think it's controversial, but that's such an easy label to throw on something that you personally feel uncomfortable about in the hopes it will stick and make others uncomfortable, too.

I have various lines in different parts of the play, and my full monologue is part of a three-monologue series called "The Memory of Her Face," a recent addition to the production. It tells three stories, from Baghdad, Islamabad, and Juarez. I speak about Juarez, and the systemic rape, murder, mutilation, and body-dumping of a slew of girls and young women happening there that has been in the news (NPR-like news, that is) a lot in recent years but remains woefully underinvestigated.

More details here about our specific production:


But it's also a worldwide movement! And the VDay site has a lot of great information. I encourage you to check it out. You can even find a show in your area, for those lucky souls who aren't anywhere near Long Island. You can also Netflix the DVD.

V-Day. Until the violence stops.

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