0213 World Under Water Vagina Monologues

Dress rehearsal curtain call from 2019’s World Under Wonder’s production of “Vagina Monologues.” Most of the cast is returning for this year’s performance.

WEATHERSFIELD, Vt. — For the second “V Day” celebration in a row, World Under Wonder is ready to present a staged reading of activist Eve Ensler’s masterpiece of empowerment, “The Vagina Monologues.” The performance will be held on Friday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 1 at 2 p.m. at their playhouse in the old Weathersfield Grange Hall that the group is renovating at 5755 Route 5 in Ascutney. All of the proceeds will go to benefit Upper Valley Women’s Information Service (WISE) and Planned Parenthood.

Repeating the production again this year is a result of sold-out performances in 2019 and a strong desire by most of the cast to “do it again” as well, many having felt it was such an empowering experience for them. Again, the production will be directed by Artistic Director Samantha Maskell.

“It’s as relevant now as it was when it was written in the late ‘90s,” Maskell said. “‘Me Too’ is still a thing, and Harvey Weinstein is right now on trial.”

Sean Edward Roberts, executive director of World Under Wonder, remarked, “I am very excited about doing the ‘Vagina Monologues’ again, this show means so much to both the cast that are new and coming back to be a part of this production. It is empowerment, awareness and acceptability for these people to stand on the stage and voice out these monologues. I am very proud to say that we are continuing this work each year. It is something that matters, a sign of hope within a darkening world.”

Maskell explained that this year’s production will have 21 women on stage ranging from mid-teen to one who is in her 80s, including three mother-daughter combinations.

“I had a great time working with these women last year, and I get to work with them again,” Maskell said. “And the new people are just awesome. And, for the theater, we get to give something back to the community.”

Ensler, a sexual abuse victim herself at age 10, later attended Middlebury College in Vermont where she became a militant feminist. Her “Vagina Monologues” was first performed in 1996 in the cellar of the Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village, N.Y. The play itself consists of a series of monologues in a humorous and poignant celebration of women that is hard to forget. In 2006, Charles Irshwood of The New York Times said it was “possibly the most important piece of political theater of the last decade.” Ensler won the 2011 Isabel Stevenson award at the 65th Tony Awards Ceremony which recognizes an individual from the theater community who has made a substantial contribution to humanity and social service organizations. Over the years actresses from Jane Fonda and Cindy Lauper to Oprah Winfrey as well as thousands of community theater participants have presented the monologues.

Ensler has kept the work fresh and relevant by adding and taking away parts of the script each year. Often this has taken the form of three or so “spotlight monologues” added for just that year. In 2019,

instead of “spotlight monologues” from Ensler, casts were invited to amplify the often unheard and excluded voices of survivors, activists, and groups in our communities by creating three community-written testimonies to be performed at the end of the play. This year, there will be a new song called “Like a Woman” about women working, written by Ryan Amador and re-arranged by Ben Bryan of the Pentatonics. Permission to perform the work is only granted with strict rules as to how it is to be performed and how proceeds are to be distributed to worthy organizations doing work compatible to the cause.

“When women take the stage, incredible things happen, as their issues are voiced and confronted for all to see,” states Ensler’s “V Day” organization about the purpose of the work.

In her program notes, Maskell says, “Now, we share — for ourselves, for you, and for all the female-identifying women who feel that they can’t — in hopes that more people... will start talking. Back in 2017, women marched on Washington and the world experienced #ADayWithoutAWoman. Flash-forward to 2018 when we saw ‘Me Too.’ #TimesUp. Harvey Weinstein. Matt Lauer. James Franco. Russell Simmons. ‘The “Shitty Media Men’ list. Right now, people are saying, ‘The discussion has started,’ and it’s important that we have this discussion as we do with other movements. I think the big question now is, ‘What are we gonna do about it?’”

The dramatization of the issues and the movement continues worldwide and in Weathersfield. Tickets for this production are available at the door or online at worldunderwonder.org. Or for further information you may call (603) 381–3344 or email director@worldunderwonder.org.

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