Vagina Monologues brings tears and laughter

Courtney Dickson, Roving Editor Ω

Rebecca Maclean produced and MCed this year's production with humour and compassion. - Photo by Courtney Dickson

Rebecca Maclean produced and MCed this year’s production with humour and compassion. – Photo by Courtney Dickson

One in three women will be beaten or raped in their lifetime. This sobering fact was repeated throughout the 2013 DISH (Dames Investing in Social Harmony) society’s production of the Vagina Monologues, as performers brought attention to the issue of violence against women.

Twenty-six local women took the stage at the Kamloops Convention Centre on Feb. 14 for the first night of the Vagina Monologues. Not only was that day the 15th anniversary of the V-Day movement, but it was also the day of the global One Billion Rising campaign.

Rebecca Maclean, DISH director and TRU alumnus, said the event was half fundraising efforts and half awareness for the work the three local agencies sponsored by the Vagina Monologues are doing.

More than 200 real women were interviewed about their relationship with their vaginas and sexuality to produce a set of monologues that were intimate and often hilarious, but also emotional for many.

DISH provided counsellors on-site for audience members troubled by any of the readings.

“My Vagina Was My Village,” performed by Rebekah Hill and Sam Birchall, told a vivid story of violence against women in Bosnia. The description of a metal rifle being shoved inside a woman rendered the audience speechless.

The crowd was unsure whether or not to applaud following the more upsetting readings. The clapping was much less enthusiastic. The stories clearly resonated with the crowd.

“By the third night I addressed the audience to tell them that the next 15 minutes would be heavier,” Maclean said.

“The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy” appeared to be the most well-received by the audience as they howled with laughter as Petrina Dumais demonstrated the myriad moans women are capable of, from the “military bisexual” to the “triple orgasm” moan.

To conclude the evening, each of the women on stage expressed why they were rising for the One Billion Rising campaign. It was emotional for everyone and some performers were brought to tears.

“For my daughter. I can’t always be there to protect her and I want to know you will when I can’t be there,” said one performer.

This year’s performances differed from previous years due to the incorporation of the One Billion Rising campaign. A dance preceding the performances, a short film and the finale were all new to the show.

While Rebekah Hill reads a Vagina Happy Fact, her peers (or "sisters") sit together in the background. - Photo by Courtney Dickson

While Rebekah Hill reads a Vagina Happy Fact, her peers (or “sisters”) sit together in the background. – Photo by Courtney Dickson

Outside the theatre was a silent auction and plenty of swag for monologue-goers to purchase. Vagina-shaped chocolates, novelty underwear and I Love Vagina stickers were among the fun items available.

Audience engagement was also part of the show. As people arrived at the Convention Centre, they were asked to answer two questions at a table — If your vagina wore clothes, what would it wear? And what should your vagina say? Some answers were read aloud following intermission.

Performer Kira Haug, one of the founding members of DISH, read the first monologue, “Hair.“ She has been involved with the monologues in Kamloops since they started in 2010.

“I think the community digs the monologues,” she said. “We use the arts to talk about hard things.”

Women attended in groups for a girls-night-out, couples celebrated Valentine’s Day and families were out to support the DISH society’s annual event.

Approximately 240 people attended on the first evening, but over the three evenings more than 800 people saw the monologues.

“It’s the kind of show where it’s hard to get people out to for the first time,” Maclean said. She estimated half the audience had attended the show in the past.