Showing posts with label VDay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VDay. Show all posts

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Following Eve Ensler's new play debut "Emotional Creature"

Looking back on my participation in "The Vagina Monologues," I can not be more proud of myself for having done it. Eve Ensler is trying to challenge the entire globe (the entire planet!!) to think more critically about how humanity tolerates physical and sexual violence against women, to call it out when it happens, and finally, do something about it.

This week Eve premiered a new play in Berkeley, California called "Emotional Creature." I found Jane Fonda's post about it so inspiring that I wanted to share it with you.

If you are a woman and aren't yet familiar with Eve Ensler's work, there's an opportunity coming up this February. She is asking the entire planet to rise up and dance together to let the entire world know that we stand together saying "this is not acceptable." You can check the hashtag #1billionrising on Twitter for more information too and be inspired by people all over the world who are doing the same.

If you are a man, we especially need you to participate. Eve Ensler asks good men in the "Vagina Monologues" play "where the hell are you?" It's blunt, but sometimes blunt is needed. Wherever you live on this big ball, can you help be part of #1billionrising in February 2013? Organize a dance, go to a dance, sell tickets to a dance? We need good men to help shift this paradigm.  Indeed, in someways, you are needed most.

One of the most satisfying aspects of being in the "Vagina Monologues" was doing something rather than just complaining about something. The future is now. Let's move humanity forward.  Here's Jane Fonda's post to inspire you too!

Here's the story of our Vagina Monologues production in Istanbul. The oldest post is at the bottom.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

VDay 2013: One Billion Women Rising Globally & .... Dancing!

Istanbul cast of the 2012 English-language version
of "The Vagina Monologues"
What a delight it was to gather one last time with my fellow cast members of the 2012 Istanbul English-language "Vagina Monologues" and meet their families, boyfriends, and friends at our cast dinner. We reunited at an Indian restaurant near Taksim Square in the Tamirhane area.
Musafir Indian Restaurant
in the Tamirhane Neighborhood
Near Taksim

This doesn't strike me
as an evil eye, how about you?
Surprisingly, our beautiful waitress
was not Indian,
she was Turkish.
Fooled you, didn't she?

Harika and her beau were off on a
photography safari of Nepal after the play.

We enjoyed delicious Indian food. Most importantly, we enjoyed each other's company and discussed what was next for each of us. Harika was off to photograph Nepal. Tara was leaving for scuba in Egypt the next day. One cast member was flying back to Rome where she lived full-time. I must admit, the more I read about Eve Ensler and her cause the more involved I wanted to become in the future. I wasn't ready to let go of the VDay cause.

"The Vagina Monologues" is coming up on its 15th anniversary next year. It makes a statement, it has been produced in over 140 countries and raised money for local charities (over $100 million since it was first written), yet still the world if full of violence against women. If anything, it's become worse. What will change the paradigm, Eve asks? What would make everyone in our buildings, on our streets, in our cities, in our nations wake up and not take it anymore? To demand a safer world for all women? Something even bigger, even bolder is needed! Listen to her yourself (prepare yourself, its an awfully tough listen):

Eve Ensler
on Democracy Now
discussing "1BillionRising"

Eve Ensler says:
"V-Day is calling the 1 billion survivors of violence on every continent of the planet to join and RISE. On February 14, 2013, we are inviting, challenging, and calling women and the people who love them to walk out of their homes, schools, jobs to strike and dance. To dance with our bodies, our lives, our heart. To dance with our rage and our joy and love. To dance with whoever we want, wherever we can until the violence stops. We know our brothers, husbands, sons and lovers will join us in the dancing. Imagine 1 billion women and those that love them dancing. Imagine us taking up space, expanding our borders and possibilities, expressing the depth of our desire for peace and change. Dancing, 1 Billion Dancing. The earth will surely move and violence against women and girls will end. Because it can."
Imagine trying to organize one billion people to end violence against half the population of the world! I love the scope and breadth of her ambition. What audacity! I can only ask myself "what can I do to help make this happen?" I ask you, is there something you can do as well in your corner of the world to help Eve reach her goal? Can we help Eve make the earth move together?

Here is one thing we can do immediately:

 follow #1BillionRising on Twitter

Here is a second thing we can do immediately:

 sign up to receive email about her goal

Here is a third thing we can do longterm:

 organize some sort of dancing for February 14, 2013

And lastly, on VDay 2013 we can DANCE!

C'mon. It will be fun.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Vagina Monologues: We Did It!

Some of our fabulous cast
for "The Vagina Monologues"
Pictured left to right: Tara, Demet, Yasemin, me,
Monique, Harika, and Kendra
The play poster

One of my fellow cast members in DreamTree's production of "The Vagina Monologues," remarked at what an amazing feat it was for Donna M.E. Banks, an American and Kendra Tyre, a Canadian to move to Istanbul and within six months start up a theatre production company and put on Eve Ensler's play. These two ladies had known each other as teachers in Korea, and then discovered they were both living in Istanbul. "Why not create a VDay event?" they thought.

VDay is the movement to wake up the world to the gender-based violence women experience. It was started by American Eve Ensler.
The name of our
adorable neighborhood theatre
was Mekan.artı
It was just down the street from the entrance
of the Istanbul Hilton in Harbiye.
As I said in my last post, acting has not ever been one of my dreams. I was in this production because I believed in the cause. I walked away from the experience with new insight and respect for actors and actresses. For one thing, it takes a lot of time to learn dialogue.  As the oldest cast member, I joked that 'act' stood for 'Alzheimer's Cognitive Testing.' It seemed odd to me to devote so much time to something I would use all of three times.  At least if I was studying a school subject - say osmosis, or something, I could use it forever. I also had no idea the amount of time that actors need to devote to rehearsals. My goodness, it's like a part-time job to go to rehearsals every week.
But is this space not endearing?
It's like a little neighborhood clubhouse.
It held just under 100 seats.

As I was whining to a friend about how much more work it is to be in a play than I realized, he said, "yes, but you'll forget all that pain when you perform it." I was scared to death to act in this play, and as we prepared I felt wave after wave of vulnerability engulf me. My friends carried  me through though, and lifted me up with joy and support as I got ready. When we put the tickets on sale, it took less than a week for them to sell out. The last few days before the play all of us in the cast were fielding calls from all kinds of people asking, "please just four more seats?"

Opening night was full of drama for the cast: one member was in the hospital hoping to get discharged by 6 p.m. for our 8:30 curtain time, another went through three or four babysitters before finding one that would commit and stick. The second night, the lights were bright and I flubbed a couple of my lines. I quickly found my way back but it was a bit unnerving. The third night, one cast member forgot to get her suitcase out of the taxi trunk with all the costumes inside. Luckily, the cabbie realized it and brought it around in time for the show. Donna and Kendra goodnaturedly rolled with all of it.

The power of art to transform and cause us to think and grow is incredible. During our rehearsals, I faced my own intolerance of the transgender character in the show, and realized I was repulsed by the ambiguity everytime I heard the monologue. I didn't want to be, but I was. I don't know anyone in that situation. I always have to think, "now, are these the people who dress in the other gender's clothes? Or the people who want sex-change surgery? Or people who have had sex-change surgery?" I can never keep it straight.

"Wow, in real life, people with that issue, are a walking violence target," I realized. If I was repulsed and was doing my best to be compassionate and still struggling, I could imagine there are plenty of people who don't even bother to struggle. I just sat with my own feelings and felt the discomfort of not understanding. The play taught me how damn hard it must be to be one of those people. May they find kindness out there in the world. May I not be indifferent to the hate crimes they experience.

I hope to post more pictures and information about how much money was raised for Turkish nonprofits, but I'll end here saying how amazingly proud I am of my friends. Their biggest accomplishment was to use art to create conversations about difficult subjects. Among the cast we had fascinating discussions about what our mothers and grandmothers had taught us about avoiding gender-based violence, we discussed what monologues we identified with and what ones we did not, we talked about what part of the female experience isn't represented. We were privleged to help create the same kind of conversations among our audiences. I felt wondrous community develop full of love and support among the English-language speakers of Istanbul around this play. It was a privlege to be a part of it - next time though - I'm signing up for the publicity team - anything but acting!

A splendid story in "Today's Zaman" newspaper about our efforts and in "Milliyet" newspaper

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

First Rehearsals - Vagina Monologues in Istanbul

Great movements often start in coffee shops.
Vaclav Havel famously met
with his fellow Czech dissidents
in the Cafe Slavia across from
the National Theatre in Prague.

My expatriate American friends,
Donna and Kendra,
newly arrived in Turkey,
had decided to organize a VDay event
with both expatriate and Turkish women.
They decided to produce the play
"The Vagina Monologues"
in Istanbul.
Auditions were over.
Our first rehearsal
was at an Istanbul coffee shop.
We shyly came together,
that day in February.
I was struck by the beauty of the women there.
Each one wanted to help other women
through her own personal participation
in Eve Ensler's famous play.
 I had heard about the "Vagina Monologues" for years
and finally saw them in Madison, Wisconsin.

Eve Ensler, the writer of the play, wants to end
the great global silence
about the ongoing epidemic of violence
perpetrated against women and girls
around the world.

The play represents the experiences of women
all around the globe,
most notably, women in the Congo.
Each year, a new monologue is added
reflecting the news of the day.
I wish that wasn't necessary.
I didn't know about performing a play
like this in a conservative country,
but I took faith from the courage of our
producer/directors and the other women present.
 I have no interest in acting.
I don't have that bug at all.
But I do want to support
everything Eve Ensler does.

Her life's mission is
to wipe out violence against women worldwide.
Yes, I know.
You probably think she's crazy.

Yet the impossible happens every day.
Do you think Vaclav Havel and his Czech friends
believed the Berlin wall would eventually fall?

the NACCP expected they would be so wildly successful
in seeking change that less than 100 years later
there's a black man in the White House?

I am not sure they would have dreamed it.
They just started with the first step.

Can't you just imagine how
hopeless those situations
looked at the time?

I wonder what it will be like for women
100 years from now if all of us just take that first step
toward ending the culture of violence.
VDay believes the reason for the global silence
about what women are experiencing is
 the indifference of authorities worldwide,
 the instinct of denial within families,
 and the lack of public outrage
about the violence
that millions of women experience every day.
But on this first day,
it was just interesting to learn about the play
and to meet the other women.
Kendra, one of our producer/directors
listening intently to a first reading.
V-Day dreams of a world in which
women and girls will be free to thrive,
rather than merely survive.
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