Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues began in 1996 as a project to help women understand, discuss and rethink their relationships with their vaginas. The project continues to celebrate vaginas, challenge gender based violence and promote better understandings of consensual sex. However, taboos and stigma surrounding women’s sexuality and reproduction still persist in 2017.
With Trump threatening to remove funding for reproductive services relied on by many disadvantaged women and transgender people, Elle May met up with Hayley May Hall, director of the Bristol University Medics’ and BOG’s (Bristol Obs and Gynae society) production of The Vagina Monologues, to discuss the importance of staging the play today.
What made you choose The Vagina Monologues specifically?
The Vagina Monologues is a play based on real women’s stories talking about what it means to have a vagina. The Vday campaign aims to raise awareness about the discrimination and violence across the globe that women and girls face today. 90% of the funds raised from the show are going towards a local charity, Bristol Crisis Service for Women which support women that have experienced self-injury.
What do you think The Vagina Monologues offers women? A fresh look at their Vagina? Brutal honesty? Empowerment?
The play offers a range of women’s stories and experiences; the stories told are honest, funny and touching and can also be very relatable. I think anyone that experiences the play either as an audience member, cast or crew can feel a sense of great liberation in the space that the play creates by openly expressing real women’s thoughts, feelings and experiences of having a vagina.
As medical students, has reading and performing The VM changed the way you think about vaginas/ your vaginas? Is it easy to split between an emotional and a medical response?
I think my personal response to the play has been mainly human rather than solely medical. For me, it has highlighted the taboo and stigma attached to people talking about vaginas in a social setting and it openly challenges this with its bold, raw delivery of the monologues.
Why do you think The VM is relevant today? Has it felt more relevant to you since Trump’s appointment and subsequent cuts to Planned Parenthood?
I think The VM will be timelessly relevant because it describes real women’s stories and experiences that will always be valid and thought provoking regardless of the social setting they are presented in. However, I think you’re right in that the monologues and their content could be described as particularly poignant in the current political climate. There are a few lines in the play that specifically target the oppressive nature of political power when it comes to women’s rights, including that of the president.
What is your favourite part of The VM?
Definitely the fantastic group of women that it is brought together and that I’ve had the pleasure of rehearsing with. Everyone has such a unique, beautiful and equally important part in the production and I am so excited to see everyone’s hard work come to fruition at the performances.
To find about more about this production, visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/370239166683204/