It’s been a few years since local women first stepped on stage at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre to talk about vaginas.
Then thought as a brazen move in what is typically considered a conservative town, that first production of The Vagina Monologues, and the show that followed it a year later, were smash hits that sold out the house.
Both raised funds for the Vernon Women’s Centre, and brought awareness to the cause of ending violence towards women to the forefront.
Although it’s been a while since the Monologues were staged here, they are still performed around the world.
And thanks to a single mother and theatre grad, who recently moved back to her hometown of Vernon, The Vagina Monologues are returning.
Jessika LaFramboise is reprising the local production of Eve Ensler’s now 15-year-old episodic play as part of a number of local events centered around V-Day, which will take place at The Hub Arts Collective.
The global movement that works toward ending violence against women and girls typically takes place around Valentine’s Day by increasing awareness, raising money for the community, and inspiring the female spirit.
The Vagina Monologues are about supporting woman of all social strata, ages, and experiences, telling stories about, yes, vaginas, but with a much deeper context, said LaFramboise.
“Every year, V-Day founder Eve Ensler puts out a script of what stories she wants done as The Vaginal Monologues, and this year it’s about ending violence against women, especially rape,” said LaFramboise.
However, not all the stories are doom and gloom, she added.
“There are some with humour. With The Vagina Monologues, everyone who has contributed to them has her own opinion. The vaginas in the stories reflect all emotions: happy, sad, angry; it’s all part of what Eve wanted to do in telling women’s stories.”
A graduate of the theatre program at Calgary’s Mt. Royal University, LaFramboise prefers to be behind the stage rather than on it.
Her background as a theatre technician comes thanks to her former stagecraft teacher Dave Brotsky, who instilled in her a love of set building while she was a student at W.L. Seaton Secondary.
Since moving back to Vernon, LaFramboise has started her own theatre company, theatre86, with a plan to stage street performances, and The Vagina Monologues is her first production.
(She has also been volunteering her time as lighting technician for Powerhouse Theatre productions as of late.)
“I had never seen the Monologues done live, instead I bought a copy of the book Eve Ensler did, and I loved it. I asked why we’re not doing it here,” she said.
Although not everyone she approached was comfortable telling stories about their most private of parts, LaFramboise managed to gather 12 women, ranging from age 22 and up, to enact at least two stories each from the Monologues. They include Menza Bouwman, Michelle Clarke-Brown, Lara-Rose Duong, Elicia Hadley, Sarah Hobbs, Tanya Lipscomb, Ashley Plomp, Miriam Palfry, Judy Rose, Alara Serait, and Molly Woodford.
“Everyone got to choose one monologue they wanted to do,” said LaFramboise. “Even though the women are reading stories that were written by other women, it’s really about how a person connects to the story… Our eldest member (Palfry) could relate to her story as it was about reflecting back to being a teenager when she was one herself.”
Theater86’s production of The Vagina Monologues, takes place at The Hub Friday, Feb. 17 and Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m., as well as Sunday, Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door, or from the actors in the show. Proceeds will go in support of the Vernon Women’s Transition Society, as well as the First Nations Friendship Centre.
“I chose them because I’ve used them both,” said LaFramboise. “The Friendship Centre offers a lot of outreach programs and also hosts the downtown clinic as part of the health centre, and the Women’s Transition House offers a safe house for women and their families as well as a hotline for women that runs 24/seven.”
Other V-Day events taking place this week include the art exhibition, A Woman’s Womb, showcasing local artists and pieces that celebrate and promote the health of the female body, heart and soul.
This show will be presented alongside Jill McDonald’s and Maya Sky’s exhibitions at The Hub and will be open to the public Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as one hour before the start of other events during V-Day week.
In addition, two documentaries, Violence Stops, showing how The Vagina Monologues grew into the international grassroots movement of V-Day, and What I Want My Words To Do To You, looking into the minds and hearts of women inmates, will be screened Thursday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.
To learn more about V-Day Vernon 2012 or to become involved in the movement, e-mail email@example.com, check out the website at vdayvernon.weebly.com, or find them on Facebook.