By Regan Katerenchuk
Photos by Kristin Archer
Last weekend at The Spice Factory in downtown Hamilton, beautiful women, amazing words, and many emotions were brought together during the performance of The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler.
From February 10-12, an all-female cast came together to produce The Vagina Monologues to raise funds for Mary’s Place, a single women’s shelter in Hamilton. Mary’s Place provides safe and supportive emergency accommodation for women dealing with homelessness, poverty, mental illness and/or violence.
Entering The Spice Factory, one could tell that the venue certainly lives up to its name. The brick-cladded walls were illuminated with bright white lights strung all over the ceiling, providing a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Buzzing voices and sweet indie pop tunes filled the background, setting an exciting, yet chill tone.
Many vendors, including Vintage Coffee Roasters, Girl On The Wing, Sweet & Simple Candy, and Felt Melons, provided guests with awesome lady-part themed treats, from boob cupcakes, to Vagayjay themed colouring books, to female-power t-shirts. From the donations of sponsors, enough funds were raised to cover all venue expenses, leaving the rest of donations and ticket sales to be donated fully to Mary’s Place!
Opening night of The Vagina Monologues was a sold-out show, followed by four more successful shows that occurred over the weekend. The Vagina Monologues come from a series of interviews conducted with numerous women, which are then transformed into a monologue-style performance. The messages found in these stories are shared to inspire and motivate others.
Stef Dubbledam, the director, encouraged the crowd to, “Feel free to laugh, cry, and hug the person next to you,” as she introduced the show. And laugh, cry, and hug is what we did. The monologues presented took the audience on an emotional journey, from laughing until your stomach hurt, to being silent in awe, to feeling the intense astonishment from what females are capable of overcoming.
Hilarious monologues had us almost in tears, as we listened to performers discuss painfully relatable topics, such as the agony of physicals (“Who invented the cold duck lips?! Why don’t they at least warm them up!?”, to the pain of thongs (“Vaginas need comfort too!”) and a crowd favourite, “If your vagina could talk, what would it say?” (“Slow down; Don’t give up; Stay home; Good choice.”)
Stories were told which encouraged women to embrace their sexuality and recognize how beautiful their natural bodies are. Other stories touched on darker subjects, such as female genital mutilation. This horrible reality is one that millions of women in our world have faced, and will face, if it is not stopped. The monologue that focused on this topic brought awareness to an issue that is not often discussed, and will hopefully impact our society to spread the message to put an end to this horrible practice.
Monologues actress, Kathleen Slofstra, says, “It was really impactful, the whole experience. I’m not a performer at all, so I came into this experience totally fresh. When I first started practicing my monologue I took it so seriously, and then over time I really just began to love it and enjoy doing it. It’s all about loving your vagina and you can’t take your vagina overly seriously. Before last night’s performance, I was impacted by how relatable my monologue is. For all women, it’s about loving your vagina, which is something everyone can learn from and relate to in that journey.”
The importance of embracing and loving one’s natural beauty is a message that was greatly expressed throughout various monologues. The talented actresses caused the audience to relate and connect to the stories with ease.
Another performer, (who prefers to go by the initial “L”), had a contrasting view. “I wish that we didn’t have to do this, and I wish that it wasn’t so uncomfortable for so many people,” explained L. “At an event like this, you’re preaching to the choir most of the time. Myself, as a white middle class woman, there’s things that I don’t think about, such as female genital mutilation, or being in the shelter system… So it’s good to have these things put back on my radar. It’s been great to meet an entire other community of women, and I think for us to connect in our own way. How do I give voice to other women through my voice?”
Giving a voice to the voiceless is a big reason why Stef Dubbledam brought The Vagina Monologues to Hamilton. She and Joanna Aitcheson created the movement Women of Hamilton, which shares the stories of women in our city. Their journeys and stories full of strength and courage inspire many.
The Vagina Monologues, along with Women of Hamilton, hope to continue spreading this message, not only for women of Hamilton, but also for women everywhere.