'Vagina" this, "vagina" that - a girlfriend of mine who's an ob-gyn used to fling the word around in casual conversation. The rest of us would gasp and giggle.
"What's wrong?" our doctor friend would say. "That's what it's called."
But while sex is everywhere, the actual female body part is rarely named or discussed - that was, at least, until the "Vagina Monologues" came along.
Actresses Julie Kawamura (clockwise from left), Rochelle Dunning, Kathy Collins, Robin Garrison and Kristi Scott perform Eve Ensler’s award-winning work Sunday.
Eve Ensler wrote the award-winning play in 1996, based on over 200 interviews with women. The resulting monologues describe a range of vagina-related topics like sex, menstruation, masturbation, childbirth, rape and incest. Ensler originally intended the play as a celebration of femininity, but as the years went on, she increasingly turned the focus to stopping violence against women.
Today, the "Monologues" have become part of a larger "V-Day" event (V stands for Valentine, Vagina and Victory) that raises funds worldwide to benefit women's organizations.
"More and more people are aware of the show and the content," says veteran V-Day Maui activist Kathy Collins. "But we're still finding that folks who have not seen the show - either the professional, theatrical version or the community version - assume that it's like male-bashing or some chick warm-and-fuzzy kind of thing, but really it's none of that. The point is to present the stories of many women and to raise awareness."
* V-Day Maui 2010 is being produced in association with Maui Academy of Performing Arts. Showtime is 7 p.m. Sunday at Steppingstone Playhouse at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. Tickets are $15 at the door. For more information about Women Helping Women, visit www.whwmaui.net.
Here on Maui, the Valentine's Day show will raise funds for Women Helping Women. With more than 190 domestic violence cases reported on Maui each month, the need is great to bring an end to the cycle through advocacy, education and prevention.
Collins will be joined onstage by four other activists (V-Day encourages "activists" to take precedence over "actresses"): Rochelle Dunning, Robin Garrison, Julie Kawamura and Kristi Scott.
"Each of us has several monologues to do that range from hilarious to shocking to mind-numbing, but the show overall leaves you feeling uplifted," Collins says. "You get educated to a lot of horrible facts, but you leave having heard the stories of many survivors and hopeful attitudes."
Every year, V-Day turns the spotlight on a different location. This year it's the Republic of the Congo, out of which comes one of the most horrific monologues: "A Teenage Girl's Guide to Surviving Sex Slavery," read by Garrison. Collins will reprise her popular role as "The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy" (also known as the "symphony of moans"), and Scott will discuss the lovely "C" word.
With just five actresses, this year's production is a more intimate version that promises to be all the more powerful coming from these accomplished activists. Despite limited time and resources, Collins and Scott believed the cause was too important to go unnoticed on V-Day, so they went to work to make it happen.
Now Steppingstone Playhouse will join the list of over 4,000 locations worldwide where V-Day benefits are taking place from now through April. Since Ensler first launched her campaign, over $70 million has been raised and millions of people enlightened about the realities of domestic and political violence against women and girls.
Collins encourages people to "put aside their fears and prejudices and come out of curiosity - and it's for a good cause!" Not just females, but males too. "We're telling men this is a wonderful way to make points with your sweetie!"
Due to the graphic language, the show is for mature audiences only. "There may be uncomfortable moments for people whose vocabulary is more sheltered," Collins says. "But it's just a word; my gosh!"
To prepare for the show, you might try working it into casual conversation: "vagina" this, "vagina" that before long, maybe you won't even giggle.
New Zealand's leading contemporary dance company Black Grace shakes up the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater with its trademark explosive style. Founded by choreographer and dancer Neil Ieremia in 1995, Black Grace has undergone many changes over the years but continues to garner awards and acclaim for the sheer athletic quality of movement that first made the group famous. Tonight's performance will feature highlights from the group's 15-year repertoire.
* Showtime is 7:30. Tickets are $12, $25 and $35. Applicable fees are added to tickets for all MACC shows, available at the MACC box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.
Keali'i Reichel typically sells out the MACC's Castle Theater when his halau performs, and this year looks to be no different. The multifaceted singer, dancer, chanter and kumu hula presents two performances of "Kukahi 2010" at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (sold-out) and Sunday. The event will raise funds for Reichel's Halau Ke'alaokamaile, which brought home awards from its debut performance at the Merrie Monarch competition last year.
* Tickets are $12, $35, $45 and $55.
The busy girls of the Kit Kat Club offer up a flirty Valentine's Day Cabaret at 9:30 p.m. Sunday at Casanova in Makawao. Along with the polished song and dance acts of the Kit Kats will be music by BrownChicken BrownCow String Band, bellydancing by Karli B, love poetry by Hot Lava, and the Maui debut of the Reverend Adel Honeybush delivering a "special Valentine's Day service for sinners." Add V-Day visuals by Douglas DeBoer and tunes by DJ Max Vega for a wild way to spend this Hallmark holiday.
* Tickets are $10 at the door.
It started out as a class project among students at Carnegie Mellon University, and ended up as a hit both on- and off-Broadway. The musical "Godspell," based on the Gospel of Matthew, is set to rock the Historic Iao Theater in May. Maui OnStage Executive Director Alexis Dascoulias will hold auditions starting at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Iao Theater. The show runs April 30 to May 16. Those who audition are asked to prepare one verse and chorus of a contemporary musical theater or pop/rock song, and to bring sheet music, head shot and resume. For more information or to schedule an audition slot, call 244-8680.
MAPA will hold auditions for "Under Milk Wood" from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, or 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, at Steppingstone Playhouse in Queen Ka'ahumanu Center. The classic play by Dylan Thomas is about the inhabitants of a small Welsh fishing village and will be mounted in the style of a live radio play. Roles are available for up to 42 actors filling multiple roles for ages 18 to 80, with additional minor roles available for actors ages 8 to 17. Those who audition will read from the script (available upon request), and no preparation is required. Rehearsals begin March 8, and the play runs April 16 through 25.To schedule an audition slot, e-mail Director Mark Collmer at email@example.com.