Eve Ensler’s internationally successful episodic play, “The Vagina Monologues,” is now over two decades old, and yet it still holds the power to inspire.
Three island women, each influenced by the play and galvanized to create change through artistic experiences, have come together to present a new production of “The Vagina Monologues” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, 3 p.m. Saturday, March 24 and 1 p.m. Sunday, March 25, at Vashon Theatre.
When Lynann Politte first directed “The Vagina Monologues” in 2002 and 2003 for island audiences at Vashon Theatre, she did so as a newcomer to the world of theater. Never having directed, produced or acted, nevertheless, after seeing the show in Los Angeles, Politte felt motivated to bring the play to Vashon.
Now, with seasoned theatrical chops, Politte once again will direct the play. She was asked to do so by Torena O’Rorke, who moved to the island last year and brought with her the rights for the play.
O’Rorke, a mental health therapist with a theater background, had been networking on the island, which is how she found out about Politte and first met Carolyn Gill, an accountant and the third part of the production triumvirate.
Several months before the #Me Too movement began, the three women decided the time was right to restage “The Vagina Monologues.”
“My daughter saw the show when she was 14 and 16. Now she is 33 and told me that none of her friends, her generation, knows the play,” O’Rorke said.
Politte agreed saying, “There is another wave of women who need to see the show.”
That need is bittersweet for Politte, who reflected back to her 2002 production of the play and the current conservative movement to “take us back to the 1950s.”
“It’s sweet because of Eve and her wonderful stories,” she said, “and bitter because they are still relevant. My activism is to produce things so people can have an ‘aha’ moment, and that shifts consciousness.”
As a therapist, O’Rorke understands how an emotional moment can be a catalyst for change, saying that “it starts the conversation and goes out from there.” They also stressed that the show is not just for women, that it “will help men to understand women’s stories.”
Both agreed that all 13 of the Vashon women who will perform Ensler’s monologues have “a passion for the empowering message of Eve’s work.” Some of the women are experienced actors and musicians, while others are new to the stage. The cast will include O’Rorke, Devon Atkins, Dona Bradley, Emily Bruce, Antonia Greene, Sarah Howard, Linda Nygaard, Alexa Moncrief, Bonny Moss, Cate O’Kane, Samantha Sherman, Chai Ste Marie and Jennifer Sutherland Potter.
Ensler requires each production of her play to give some of the proceeds to a nonprofit. O’Rorke, Politte and Gill have formed a new nonprofit and will use the proceeds to make a difference — “Take a Stand Productions” has a mission to “provide artistic expediences that entertain, educate, empower and inspire change.”
“There’s power in the theater,” Politte said. “You put it out there, and audiences will take what speaks to them. The stories create a paradigm shift, and then people behave differently.”
Tickets are available at the theater box office or at vashontheatre.com.