TBRT-Summer-Night-Seesaw-Ad.gif
Q&A/The Festival Sessions/Fringe World Festival/Literature/Theatre

The return of the Vagina Monologues

13 January 2021

The Vagina Monologues debuted in 1996 but in the #MeToo era, this collection of stories – based on over 200 interviews with women from around the world – feels more relevant than ever, says Sarah McNeill. She’s the producer of the 2021 Fringe World version of the work, which celebrates sexuality, genitalia, body image and, of course, the vagina.

This article is sponsored content.

The Vagina Monologues, by American playwright Eve Ensler, will be presented by McNeill’s Lit Live, a storytelling initiative that she founded in 2019. As the name suggests, Lit Live sees local professional actors bring short stories and extracts from longer texts to life, marrying the energy of performance with the childhood pleasure of a bedtime story.

For those of us who have experienced Lit Live it’s easy to see why the story-based Vagina Monologues are a natural fit for the collective. Sarah McNeill, who also performs in the season, spills the beans on the upcoming Fringe season.

Seesaw: Welcome to the Fringe Sessions Sarah. Tell us about Lit Live’s Fringe World show, The Vagina Monologues
Sarah McNeill:
Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues is a seminal work that began in 1996 and became a world-wide phenomenon, sparking the international V-Day annual fundraiser for women in crisis and performances in many languages around the world.

S: What inspired you to present The Vagina Monologues in 2021?
SM:
I thought it was time to stage the show again, particularly since over the last 10 years in Australia, the sexual abuse of woman has increased by 30%. It’s time for women to reclaim their bodies!

The Vagina Monologues hasn’t been performed in Perth since 2002, when I was part of the cast that included a series of “perthonalities” including Verity James, Geraldine Mellet and Susan Maushart.

S: What makes The Vagina Monologues different to all the other shows on offer at Fringe?
SM:
So many Fringe shows these days focus on circus, magic and music. This is a piece of great theatre performed by some of Perth’s best actors.

In the last few days I’ve had a few people ask, ‘Is this a men-bashing show?’  To which I emphatically reply absolutely not!  This is a show that celebrates women, their bodies and those who love them.

S: Take us behind the scenes of The Vagina Monologues – what happens backstage?
SM: There have been a lot of discussions about vaginas, pubic hair (to wax or not to wax!) and using the word “cunt”. We all know it should be a celebratory word, not an insult.

S: No interview is complete without reflecting on 2020. How has living through a global pandemic shaped or changed the way you work?
SM:
Lit Live went online for four months – an interesting and surprisingly successful venture. It meant that my family in UK could join in!

S: What has been your pandemic silver lining?
SM:
Learning about Zoom technology and having the time to decide to stage our first main stage production. Loving the fact the audiences are so keen to go out again, and that they are discovering what talent we have right here in this state.

S: How do you think the pandemic will impact the arts long-term?
SM:
Artists will learn to engage more with audiences and audiences will hopefully continue to support the depth and breadth of talent in WA.

The Vagina Monologues plays the Studio Underground at the State Theatre Centre of WA, as part of “State of Play”, 18-20 January, and Dress Circle Bar, His Majesty’s Theatre, 27-30 January.

Pictured top is Sarah McNeill.


“The Fringe Sessions” is an annual series of Q&A interviews with artists who will be appearing at Fringe World. Stay tuned for more!

Seesaw offers Q&As as part of its suite of advertising and sponsored content options. For more information head to www.seesawmag.com.au/contact/advertise


Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked for over a decade as an arts writer and critic. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. Nina was co-editor of Dance Australia magazine from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

Past Articles

  • Celebrating women who defied the odds

    At a time when the gender pay gap for artists in Australia remains shamefully high, a coffee table book is finding more than words to support the cause.

  • Graduating dancers keep sense of joy

    A White Act degustation, a collection of oscillations and a comical retro-styled finale make for an enjoyable evening of dance, says Nina Levy.

Read Next

  • On the left a headshot of a woman with blue eyes and long blonde hair, on the right a man wearing black and holding a classical guitar What to SEE: Rachelle Durkin & Jonathan Paget
    Q&A

    What to SEE: Rachelle Durkin & Jonathan Paget

    18 November 2021

    Enjoy an evening of exquisite music as soprano Rachelle Durkin and guitarist Jonathan Paget take to the stage for Musica Viva in a concert livestreamed from Cullen Wines.

    Reading time • 7 minutesMusic
  • A woman leans over an open grand piano What to SEE: Two piano concerts with Gabriella Smart
    What to SEE

    What to SEE: Two piano concerts with Gabriella Smart

    11 November 2021

    Audiences have come to expect the beautiful and the extraordinary from Gabriella Smart. The award-winning South Australian pianist will present two concerts at WA Museum Boola Bardip that promise both slow listening and visceral pounding.

    Reading time • 7 minutesMusic
  • The cast of 'The Tempest' in action. Centre is Mararo Wangai. Photo: Daniel J Grant. What to SEE: The Tempest
    What to SEE

    What to SEE: The Tempest

    3 November 2021

    Black Swan State Theatre Company is inviting audience members into the dream-like world of Shakespeare’s Tempest, promising an experience from which you won’t want to wake. Nina Levy spoke to director Matt Edgerton to find out more.

    Reading time • 10 minutesTheatre

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio