Vagina. The word alone has the tendency to evoke strong emotional reactions in just about everyone, whether of disdain or arousal. Creating a whole performance piece based on the stories of women from around the world and call it The Vagina Monologues (TVM), well that is taking it to a whole other level. The Kahilu Theatre of Waimea, in association with Get Real Productions, proudly presents a one-night only performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” on Saturday, February 9 at 7 p.m. Prepare to be moved to tears, to laughter, and to action as this cast of 25+ courageous women perform monologues that will inspire audiences, while raising funds for local organizations that help women and children affected by violence.
“We’ve had a lot of positive response from the community already,” shares Jane Sibbett, Actress, Director, and Producer for this production of The Vagina Monologues. “The first reactions were wildly mixed, but for those who were initially worried, once they realized that it is not prurient and is about raising awareness about violence against women, they can’t fight it. I think once they see the cast sharing this powerful, funny, dynamic, brave piece, they will be glad that the Kahilu Theatre made a bold step forward to house this production and help shed light on the issues of violence that is so prevalent in our society – especially here in Hawaii.”
According to statistics, one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime. That is not only an alarming and horrendous rate, it is also absolutely unacceptable. “We simply must rise up and not tolerate violence anymore. We must refuse to let violence continue,” says Sibbett with deep emphatic passion. “My mother, my sister, and myself are all victims of violence, so those ‘one out of three’ odds are already way off in my family.” Taking a moment, she pauses, takes a breath, and soberly continues, “Twenty-nine years ago I was unwillingly moved from ‘happy, trusting, joyful college student with big dreams’ to a dark category called victim. Little by little, I became a survivor, but it has definitely been an intense process.”
As a survivor of violence against women, Sibbett is not alone. Countless women have experienced the pain, fear, and suffering at the hands of violence. That is why The Vagina Monologues was written, to empower women to speak out, raise awareness, and begin the healing process. “The Vagina Monologues brings women together,” explains Sibbett. “It is a compilation of real stories from real women – over 200 interviews of women of all ages, from around the world. Eve Ensler, the playwright, is unflinching in her desire to reclaim the story of women and the full-bodied, full-spirited expression of our pleasure, pain, and shared experiences. It gives insight. It brings healing. It creates an opportunity for the community to have an open forum where it is lacking. It’s a chance for women to see their commonality and for men to see a slice of how some of us tick. Women and children affected by violence have intense feelings of isolation; they feel they are the only one who knows the feeling, or that they can’t, won’t, shouldn’t dare share their plight. So, this play is a chance for us to let women know we aren’t alone.”
With a powerhouse cast and the support of men and women in the community, The Vagina Monologues is sure to be an unforgettable experience for all who attend. “I intend this production to be a celebration of our rising to our truth and essential reclamation of a life of love and peace,” Sibbett explains. “My take is not fighting violence with violence. It is about bringing these deep, tangled roots to the light and lovingly, and sometimes loudly, bringing issues out to find ways for us to reclaim our voices and re-member our purpose, our gifts, and help one another out to solutions. This isn’t a hate fest nor male bashing, nor titillating for the sake of being edgy – this is truth-telling on purpose to reclaim our stories and ultimately our hearts and with that heal in a better way.”
Most importantly, the main theme behind it all is love. “It is always love,” says Sibbett with joyful exuberance. “Whether we are getting it, losing it, wanting it, needing it, or reclaiming it. Love is always at the crux of every theme in the work that I do and how I see my work. Here it is love for our bodies, our spirits, our emotions, our relationships to one another and the world. Here it is love for our sacred womanliness as divine creations from a divine source that is a beautiful vessel of life and life-giving forces. Some of the monologues may have messy, cracked, bleeding, swollen, embarrassed parts of love, but put them together with intention for healing and it is always, always about love.”
Indeed, it is the love that has inspired all of the actresses in the cast to donate their time and talent to this production. With the most heart-felt gratitude, Sibbett says, “My bevvy of beautiful ambassadors of peace are Anjalisa Aitken, Mari-jo Allen, Beth Boorstein Dunnington, Susan Boyum, Bonnie Cherni, Ronja Gesso, Harmony Graziano, Sara Hagen, Julia Hughes, Rona Lee, Rebecca Parks, Megan MacArthur, Rani Moore, Naomi Peters, Robin O’Hara, Melinda Polet, Michele Paape, Shanon Sidell, Elizabeth Sharma, Maia Tarnas, and myself, Jane Sibbett. We are also honored to have Assembly Woman Valerie Poindexter and State Senator Malama Solomon as part of our cast as well. We may even have a few surprise additions, too.” Sibbett smiles as she continues, “Two of our actresses are 15-year-old girls who are so impassioned about this piece they now want everyone to come to learn, to wake up, to find the beauty of their bodies, and to maybe even teach their loves down the road a few tricks to keep the future safe and fun.”
In all honesty, Sibbett has big aspirations for how this play will impact the community. “If we help even one woman, that would be a beautiful thing, but honestly, I want a whole lot more,” intimates Sibbett. “I want to save lives. I want this play to shake us up. I want it to wake up the men to not tolerate this behavior in themselves or their families or friends any longer. I want to awaken those hearts that know that there are great options that don’t include violence. I want women to find their voices and get help and healing that is long lasting. I want the kids to never see this insanity in any form or distortion of relationship. I want monies to be raised in education so this is a non-issue in five years. I love that we are raising money for shelters and therapies, but my bigger vision is that we simply stop tolerating violence, that the problem disappears and that we no longer need shelters. Here or Anywhere. That’s the real vision. This may be a first step, this little play from the middle of the island, but if enough of us have first steps like this then maybe the whole issue is wiped clean like a big wave hitting a badly built house on shaky stilts.”
So go ahead, take that first step. Check out the one-night only performance of The Vagina Monologues at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. Be sure to get there early before tickets sell out. Don’t miss this momentous play that Variety Magazine calls, “Spell-binding, funny, and almost unbearably moving; it is both a work of art and an incisive piece of cultural history, a poem and a polemic, a performance and a balm and a benediction.” Indeed, “It is an incredible collection of tears, laughter,” shares Jane, “Moving rocking, mind-twisting, heart expanding stories for the theatre of the people – for women and the men who love them.”
Kahilu Theatre is located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, in Kamuela. For tickets, visitwww.kahilutheatre.org or call the theater at 808.885.6868. Tickets will be available at the door; prices are $20 for adults, $10 for students, above 13. Please Note: This show is not recommended that children under 13; there is highly suggestive imagery and adult subject matters. Ninety percent of all proceeds will go to on-island services, education, and shelters that assist women and children affected by violence.