BUSAN, South Korea – The episodic stage show that gave voice to vaginas around the world will take the stage in Busan this weekend at Vinyl Underground. Producer Hayley Goodwin is helping bring The Vagina Monologues to Busan for the second year in a row partly out of sheer frustration.
“People use the word penis so willingly,” she says. “But they are shy to use ‘vagina’ when it’s anatomy. We all have it; it’s like saying shoulder blade.”
The Vagina Monologues are part of a worldwide movement known as V-Day. Its aim is “stopping violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery,” according to VDay.org.
Every February through April, women around the world proudly identify their anatomy in a call for women’s rights by staging performances of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. Ensler wrote the monologues in 1994 after interviewing over 200 women around the world about their vaginas, asking them questions such as, “What would your vagina say if it could speak?” or “What would it wear?”
This all culminated into a collection of stories and rants that runs the gamut from hilarious to heartbreaking, while touching on issues such as rape, sexuality and the inconveniences of gynecology. This month, Busan women will join thousands of others in presenting a production of the powerful, emotive, and humorous show.
Though the V-Day movement began with The Vagina Monologues, today it also includes awareness events such as teach-ins, workshops, film screenings, and stage performances. To date, the V-Day campaigns have collected over $80 million to raise awareness about and end violence against women. Busan’s 2010 show raised over 1.6 million won for My Sister’s Place, an organization dedicated to helping women victimized by sex-slave trafficking to reclaim and rebuild their lives.
“I think the monologues are less about actually going into detail about your vagina and more about the experiences that come with it. You’re coming to terms with your womanhood and giving it the name of a vagina,” says Busan’s Vagina Monologues co-producer Annabelle Murphy.
Leading up to the performance itself, another fundraising event will be held earlier this weekend on Friday, February 25th at Eva’s at 10:30 p.m. Titled “Voices for Vaginas”, it will be a night of acoustic performance by talented local expat women. Voices for Vaginas will feature Vagina Monologues cast members, as well as Violet Lea of Poko Lambro and Kelsey Smith. Eva’s will offer a variety of drink specials as well.
This year’s performance will then take place Sunday, February 27th at 7:30 p.m. at Vinyl Underground in Kyungsung. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, but a suggested donation of ?10,000 will be collected. The cast and volunteers will also hold a raffle to raise additional funds for charity.
Ninety percent of the proceeds from these two events will be donated to the Busan Sae Gil Women’s Shelter*. The remaining ten percent will be donated to the V-Day organization’s chosen spotlight campaign for 2011, the Girls and Women of Haiti. Donations of non-perishable food, toiletries, feminine hygiene products, baby formula and toothpaste will also be collected at these events.
This year’s efforts are being spearheaded by two of last year’s cast members, producer Hayley Goodwin and director Jennifer Howell, whose passion for the project and the feminist spirit it embodies is evident.
The first time Howell performed in the show, she felt it was a transformative experience. “It’s great to be involved in a community of women working together,” she says, adding that the show opened her up to more ideas about women and made her feel better about being a woman.
Of course, the show isn’t just for women. Thanks to its humor and wide-ranging themes, the Vagina Monologues draws in a lot of men, too. Whether you’re a guy looking for a little insight into the female brain, a woman interested in connecting with her own femininity, or just looking for a little entertainment on a Sunday night, one takeaway is universal after seeing this show — once you’ve heard a roomful of ladies hold forth on that most womanly of orifices, you’re unlikely to be shy about dropping the v-word ever again.
The show was filled to capacity last year so, get there early.
The Sae Gil Women’s Shelter meets the needs of women, children, and teens from Busan and beyond who have been abused physically, sexually, and emotionally. Founded over twenty years ago by Busan warrior for women’s rights Lee Sung Yol, the facility includes a domestic violence survivors shelter, a sexual violence survivors shelter, a long-term stay shelter, and a group home. Today, it protects approximately 150 individuals, about half of them children and teens. Because of reduction in government support, the shelter has already used the entirety of its 2011 food budget. They are currently most in need of baby formula, non-perishable food, toiletries (including shampoo), feminine hygiene products, and toothpaste. Donations of these items will be collected at both the Voices for Vaginas and the Vagina Monologues events.