From `Vagina Monologues` to women`s emancipation

New Delhi: It is perhaps more than coincidence: Playwright and gender activist Eve Ensler, best known for the episodic ‘The Vagina Monologues’, is all set to launch a new movement from India, ‘One Billion Rising’, Jan 14.

The launch is set to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Indian adaptation of ‘The Vagina Monologues’. It also comes at a time when the nation has been collectively revulsed and shaken by the gang-rape and death of a 23-year-old student in a Delhi bus.

A communique from Poor Box Production, with which Ensler is in partnership in India, said: The movement will "energise, refocus resources and turn the spotlight on violence against women". Eminent theatre personality Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, in partnership with Ensler, manages this production house.

In India, the project will work to raise awareness with the aim of ending violence against women and girls. A series of educational and fund-raising events will be held to energise people across different strata of society, and NGOs and corporate leaders, politicians, students, media, legal professionals and members of civil society will all be drawn into the effort.

Ensler`s ‘Vagina Monologues’ has earned about US $75 million already, for charitable causes. Many charity initiatives will be undertaken during a visit by Ensler to raise funds for survivors of violence in Dharavi, Mumbai, among the largest slums in the world.

Another campaign, ‘V-Day’ will also be launched with the specific purpose of fighting gender violence.

Among the highlights of Ensler`s India visit would be the celebration of 10 years of ‘The Vagina Monolgues’ in India. The play will be performed in Hindi at the Blue Frog in Delhi Jan 8.

‘The Vagina Monologues’, translated by Ritu Bhatia and Jaydeep Sarkar as ‘Kissa Yoni Ka’, is a tragicomic comment on the plight of women. The stories are outrageous and hit-in-the-face like the tale of a Maharashtrian woman, who met a man who "loved to look at her" and a Parsi woman who hasn`t been "down there since 1944".

The cast includes Varshaa Agnihotri, Rasika Duggal, Dilnaz Irani, Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal and Dolly Thakore.

Recalling the making of the play in an interview to The Guardian, Mahabanoo Kotwal-Mody said: "Staging the play in India had been a journey of blood, sweat and tears".

Mody had first watched ‘The Vagina Monologues’ in Atlanta in 2002. She said she was "blown away and thought it was a perfect entertainment package, getting a message across by making people laugh and cry at the same time".

It set Mody thinking how "she could possibly stage a similar play in India."

Ensler will be present at the production Jan 8 to talk about her project, ‘One Billion Rising’.

‘The Vagina Monologues’, which made its debut in Broadway 1996, explores sexuality and individuality of women, also dwelling on the trauma arising from atrocities like rape, and corporal punishment at home. Lesbianism, pre-pubescent angst, love, sex and mutilation are all dealt with in episodic form.

Among the episodes, presented as monologues, are: "I Was Twelve, My Mother Slapped Me", which describes a girl`s menstrual cycle, "My Angry Vagina," in which a woman humorously rants about injustices wrought against a women`s body parts and "My Vagina was my Village", a monologue compiled from testimonies of Bosnian women who experienced rape.


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