This Sunday is Valentines Day. And before you think it’s all wine and roses and corny cards about true love, remember that it’s also V Day – part of a global revolution to protest against violence against women and children around the world…
Starting at 7.30am on Main Beach with a flashmob (wear red!) and culminating in a powerful contemporary show created by local women: Vagina Conversations at the Byron Theatre in the evening.
Organiser and event MC Zenith Virago spoke with The Echo.
Tell me about the concept of Vagina Conversations.
Having been involved as MC in the Vagina Monologues productions for the past two years here, and for another production which you were also part of some years ago, it is always abundantly clear that women want to talk about, listen about, laugh and cry and shout about their vaginas.
I have been thinking for a while that we need to tell new, more contemporary, evolved stories. Our stories.
Eve Ensler led the way and shone a light on a very under-exposed part of our community and national conversations, but I feel she would be the fist to say ‘well done, women, take it away, and tell your own stories’.
How have you managed to pull it together?
With sheer willpower, a strong desire and a great team. When we realised that there wouldn’t be a VM this year, I spoke to several outspoken, gutsy, local performers, some people also contacted us, and within no time we had a crew and a waiting list for people who wanted to be a part of the show.
Why did you think it was time to move on from The Vagina Monologues?
Many women have been to several productions of the Monologues over the past 20 years; younger women are just discovering that thrill. The VM are powerful and must be reproduced word for word. I wanted to be more diverse, open the subject matter up more, peer inside and reveal more juicy parts. Your recent yoni piece was a great example of a widening conversation.
How do you balance the stories of celebration alongside the stories of trauma?
The number of women who experience sexual abuse, assault or rape is one in three. As with all my work, I want to be real and honest, but want the show to be powerful and uplifting, and really celebrate women and our diversity and strengths.
What are some of the stories or themes developed in the show?
Our culture is highly serviced by pornography. In the last few years sexual therapy and sex workshops have come out into the light of day, and there is more of a mature attitude that its not something naughty or bent. Sex is a healthy, sacred and adult activity, mixed with mutual consent, lust or love; it is the something many of us are participating in and enjoying. The more women are empowered and courageous and outspoken the better our chances for equal, satisfying experiences. Better for everyone involved. Men could learn a lot about women from coming to the show.
Will the audience get a chance to share any of their stories?
Yes. The second half is a conversation between the audience and the team.
Why are we talking vaginas anyway?
We are talking about vaginas, yonis, cunts, pussies…whatever familiar, comfortable or confronting name we want to call our most amazing and essential body part. The clitoris is the only part of the human body designed for pleasure and has some extraordinary number (something like 80,000! not sure exactly) nerve endings. That’s something to know, to master, and to celebrate and enjoy.
Where does the money go?
The BBCC are donating the hall. We have some small tech costs, but it all goes to the Byron Shire Women and Children Escape fund.
So come along, support a very worthy cause, learn something and have a great night out with a group of wild women.
Vagina Conversations at the Byron Community Centre on Sunday at 6pm. $15 at the door or through the BBCC website byroncentre.com.au.