It’s said that there’s no time like the present, and the saying could not be truer for the upcoming production of The Vagina Monologues at Open Stage of Harrisburg.
After a several-year hiatus, The Vagina Monologues is making its triumphant return to Harrisburg this weekend. The award-winning play, written by Eve Ensler, explores the different experiences and struggles women face related to sexuality, body image, and gender identity.
I chatted with Rachel Landon, Marketing Manager of Open Stage of Harrisburg and director of this year’s production, about the show and how it connects to today’s #MeToo movement.
HF: Why bring it back now?
RL: We’ve done The Vagina Monologues in the past as part of the V-Day celebration, but we’re excited to produce the show again in 2018 as part of Season 32. This season, Stuart Landon, Producing Artistic Director at Open Stage, and the team wanted to focus on women: lifting up women’s voices, supporting women directors and writers, empowering women in theater, spotlighting strong women protagonists. We felt we had the perfect platform and climate to really hit audiences and pull passionate performances from everyone involved with the show.
How do you see it resonating in today’s climate?
The Vagina Monologues was always a groundbreaking piece of feminist theater since its inception 20 years ago, but the themes portrayed in the show are real and are still happening. It’s 20 years later and women are STILL dealing with harassment, with rape and sexual assault, with mental health struggles, with body image and shame, with understanding their own bodies and with accepting their own sexual identities. But, we’ve recently seen extremely brave women come forward to talk about their abuse, pain, and mistreatment and reclaim their power and the culture is changing. The #MeToo movement (and its amazing ripple effect) really sets the stage for this production to be incredibly powerful and real. This show proves that women have gone through terrible things but they’ve preserved and have been resilient. We (women) are powerful and this piece is really based on that.
What’s the mood like with the cast and what should audiences expect?
The actresses involved in the production are from all backgrounds, but any woman can recognize themselves in the characters portrayed in the show. Each character is different, but they are all the same as a collective group in that they are empowered talking about their struggles and journeys. The cast is focused on doing the stories and the messages in the show justice.
As for audiences, it’s like any piece of theater. You’ll experience a range of emotions throughout the show. This is a great piece of social commentary and you’ll cry, you’ll feel uncomfortable, you’ll squirm. It’s expected because we are confronting a subject and even more minutely, a word that is commonly “taboo” to discuss. But, why be afraid? Let’s use these words and celebrate women.