“The first time I was involved in ‘The Vagina Monologues’, they increased my self-confidence so much!” recalls Sarah Kate MacKinnon. “I first was involved in ‘The Vagina Monologues’ when I was in Grade 11, I am now in my third year of university. I became comfortable with my body and learned how to disclose about sexual topics that most have trouble talking about.”
MacKinnon is the most recent Cape Breton woman to take on the task of directing what has become an annual performance of Eve Ensler’s internationally acclaimed, and still fiercely controversial, play exploring women’s experiences through their own life stories.
MacKinnon says, “Many of my cast members often say that coming to a rehearsal for the Vagina Monologues is like group therapy because (as one of them said) ‘you get to talk to women about things that you cannot usually talk about anywhere else because they are deemed taboo’.”
Following the positive response of women around the world to her play, Ensler founded V-Day a worldwide movement to end violence against girls and women. She also founded One Billion Rising, a campaign to encourage survivors of interpersonal violence to report rapes and assaults to the authorities. According to the latter’s website, it is a call for survivors to “break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously – through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right.”
The 2016 production of “The Vagina Monologues” is being presented by the Cape Breton University Women’s Centre and the CBU Theatre society at the CBU Boardmore Playhouse on Friday, February 12, 7 pm.
Admission is by donation (or non-perishable food item) with the proceeds going to the CBU Women’s Centre and Transition House.
“I am involved with both CBU groups and wanted to do a project that involved both atmospheres. The people involved in the theatre society thought that the Vagina Monologues is a great opportunity to get new people involved in theatre,” MacKinnon says, adding, “The women involved get the chance to explore themselves through a new lens. This is because it attracts women who are passionate about women’s issues and have never acted before.”
Cast member members for this production include Emily Tupis, Baillie Ferguson, Felicia Abbas, Christie Ragan, Raychelle Doue, Breanna Pearson, Jacqueline Evely, Carrie MacDonald, and Sarah-Kate MacKinnon.
MacKinnon says the play has a universal message, “This play is a must see for everyone, both men and women alike. It will open your eyes to the different issues that women still face both through personal and societal pressures.”
“This play tackles many issues, such as sexual assault,” she explains, “It talks about embracing our bodies, as women are often taught that they should not be open sexually. Both my cast and I learned that there shouldn’t be a stigma attached to the word ‘vagina’ as it is something you should embrace and that there should be more opportunities to have these conversations.”
To get that conversation going, audience members are invited, after the performance, to meet the director and cast for refreshments in the Michael Mason Lounge, across the lobby from the Playhouse.