After at 13-year absence, The Vagina Monologues are returning to Penticton.
The return can be credited to Oliver woman Naomi Shore. Moving to Oliver in November, Shore was entering her 10th year helping direct, produce and run the show in Fort St. John. Shore was interested in getting involved, but found out the show had not been performed in Penticton for some time.
“It’s a really great show, just to see never mind be a part of. The reason I love the show, and being part of the show, is that you meet a group of 15 to 25 women every year that you wouldn’t meet otherwise and totally don’t run in the same social circles,” Shore said.
Women of diverse ages and backgrounds answered the casting call.
“Directing here has been really great just the group of women who showed up and wanted to be a part of this show were super, fiery, brave types,” Shore said.
Anyone and everyone can be involved, one of the rules outlining the production when purchasing the rights to the script.
“We have a couple really seasoned actresses that have had long and successful careers on stage and women who have never spoken in front of more than two people at a time so that will be really great,” Shore said.
Shore is excited to bring the show back to Penticton, especially with the current sociopolitical climate. The performance of the iconic play by Eve Ensler is benefitting the South Okanagan Women In Need Society (SOWINS). The spotlight monologue touches on violence against women in the workplace and equal pay.
“I think right now just women, especially of my generation, but all women are super fired up and I’m excited that we have this outlet for the cast and the community to get all nuts,” Shore laughed.
Producer Laurel Burnham is excited to produce her first play, and an important one at a significant time for women’s issues.
“This is speaking for millions of women all over the world who have suffered and continue to suffer tremendously at the hands of patriarchy,” Burnham said.
“Feminism has experienced a bit of a rebirth, a bit of a renaissance and that’s a very exciting thing. Because we’re still not equal in this world. We’re still not. We’re still second-class citizens with diminished wages, more danger, less property and less opportunity and more violence directed towards us generally in the world,” Burnham said. “It hurts us all. It endangers the entire planet.”
Ann Doyon heard about the casting call and decided to hit the stage after being away from theatre for years.
“I decided it was a really good project, especially coming from the First Nations’ perspective,” Doyon said. “We have so many missing and murdered women in Canada and some of our women, when I talk to them, can’t even say vagina and it’s like, why? You have to get over it and reclaim your language and reclaim your words. It’s like Voldemort.”
She’s taking on a more serious monologue, an interesting take for her as more of a comedic performer.
“The piece that I have really connected to me because of the tie between what happened here in Canada, the war against the First Nations during colonization and the continued affects of that,” Doyon said. “I read it and I feel such a connection to these women across the ocean, what they had gone through.”
Fellow cast member Dianne Gibson notes it is an interesting time for women’s issues, but she has a positive take on the political scene unfolding south of the border.
“It’s a launching pad. Things that make us uncomfortable always push us forward,” Gibson said.
She’s planning to march on International Women’s Day on March 8.
“Many women brought up the issue of Trump. He’s sort of been the springboard for all of us, but you know, when someone tears off the Band-Aid like Trump did and we’re all in shock of it. It brings good things. It’s healing. We’re all moving forward,” Gibson said. “March 8. I can’t wait. We’re going to all go on strike, you guys are going to realize what life is without women and we do our play on (March 10 and 11). So it’s all great. Feminism is something that’s being embraced by all walks of life.”
The Vagina Monologues come to the Many Hats Theatre/Nest and Nectar for two performances March 10 and 11 with a silent auction taking place both nights. Tickets are available at the Nest and Nectar (250-493-7275) or SOWINS (250-493-4366) with two options: a “hot ticket” for March 10, which includes hot appetizers and one beer/wine for $60, or the “candy ticket” on March 11, which includes a candy buffet for $35.