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Vagina Monologues to Open in Taipei

Originally published in:
Taiwan News

Hungfu Hsueh
Local women's rights groups will stage the play, "The Vagina Monologues," in Taipei on Friday and Saturday, as the climax to a series "V-Day" activities that started earlier this month.

"V-Day" is a global movement that was launched in 1998 to stop violence against women and girls. This is the first year that local women's rights group have joined the worldwide campaign.

The participating local groups include the Garden of Hope Foundation, Taiwan Women's Link and Taipei Association for the Promotion of Women's Rights. The proceeds from the show will be donated to local women's rights groups to support their work in preventing domestic violence.

Chi Hui-jung, executive director of the Garden of Hope Foundation, said she hoped Taiwan's participation in the "V-Day" campaign will help local women's rights activists to promote their work in Taiwan in the future.

"This year we launched our "V-Day" activities in Taipei, and I hope this could be a good starting point to promote other activities around the country," said Chi.

The Cabinet-level Council of Cultural Affairs is one of the co-sponsors of this year's "V-Day" event.

CCA Chairman Chen Chi-nan (í¬ë¥ìÏ) said that he hopes the "V-Day" campaign will help to heighten female citizens' awareness of their civil rights.

"The CCA in recent years has been working on a 'Cultural Citizenship Movement' to encourage our citizens to develop their understanding of art and culture," Chen said. "In our society, many women still suffer the burdens of tradition that the society imposes on them, and I wish cultural activities like "V-Day" can help to promote greater awareness and prevent violence against them."

The letter "V" in "V-Day" stands for "victory," "valentine," and "vagina." Every year, productions of Eve Ensler's award-winning play "The Vagina Monologues" are staged all over the world to raise money for local anti-violence organizations.

The play will premier in Taiwan with Friday's performance.

In the past seven years, "The Vagina Monologues" has successfully raised US$25 million toward networking around the globe to prevent domestic violence and to empower women.

The title is representative of the fact that public discussion of the vagina is taboo in many societies worldwide. Feminist activists have encouraged women to explore their own bodies in order to develop a better understanding of themselves and to achieve the objective of a better self-protection.

Ensler's play adopts the style of monologues by female actresses, delineating women's life experiences and bringing a deeper level of discussion to gender issues. Before writing the play, Ensler had conducted interviews with more than 200 women about their sexuality, their bodies and their stories of violence and sexual abuse.

Ensler's work has met with resistance in some countries, particularly those that uphold traditional patriarchal values. The play was banned in Shanghai, China in 2004 and later in Uganda in 2005.

The two performances in Taiwan will be staged at the Red House Theater in Mandarin and English on Friday and Saturday night, respectively. Both performances are sold out.

Dana Wylie, director of the English language performance in Taiwan, said though the play is internationally famous, each local performance will reflect characteristics of the local culture, as the identities of women around the world are definitely different, one from the other.