Eve Ensler’s play ‘Vagina’ - 10 years later
Originally published in:
San Francisco Chronicle
Michelle Devera Louie, Chronicle Staff Writer
Eve Ensler, whose play "The Vagina Monologues" is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, visited the Bay Area last week to promote V-Day, a campaign to stop violence against women that raises funds through performances around the world.
Of course, it's a different world than it was when Ensler's play first sent shock waves through the popular culture. Oprah Winfrey proudly refers to the "va-jay-jay" on her show, and the New York Times chronicled the rise of the word being used on popular television shows like "Grey's Anatomy" and "30 Rock."
Despite the growing acceptance of the word and its cutesy counterparts, the serious problem of violent abuse continues to fuel Ensler's desire to keep the play - and its message of empowerment - in the spotlight.
Ensler's Bay Area stop was part of a cross-country trip that began in February, a tour that will have its climactic finale April 11 in New Orleans at an event called V to the Tenth - a two-day, 10th-anniversary celebration featuring the likes of Winfrey, Jane Fonda and Rosario Dawson, among other celebrities.
While here, Ensler was the guest of honor at a private party and fundraiser hosted by author and activist Emily Scott Pottruck that featured cast members from Showtime's "The L Word," spoke at St. Mary's College in Moraga and teamed up with the Filipina Women's Network to publicly rally for stronger sentencing requirements in domestic violence cases.
On Wednesday, at a press conference at Hotel Monaco, Ensler criticized a decision by a San Francisco Superior Court judge to reduce the murder charges against William Corpuz, who was convicted of killing his wife, Marisa Corpuz, in 2003. As a result, Corpuz received a 16-years-to-life sentence instead of 26 years to life.
"It's a strange, relative posturing on violence," Ensler said. "What are we talking about? The woman is dead. The outcome is what matters."
Ensler said that deaths like Marisa Corpuz's, coupled with travels to the Congo and Juarez, Mexico, have convinced her that the problem knows no geographic or gender boundaries and that it will only be overcome with more activism.
"We're not the ones beating or raping ourselves," she said. "It's not just a woman issue, but a human issue."
Ensler spoke at the Filipina Women's Network event because the organization has produced annual benefit performances of "The Vagina Monologues" and its Tagalog version, "Usaping Puki," since 2004. This year, it is premiering Ensler's 2007 companion piece, "A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer," which includes men in the cast for the first time.
"A Filipina sister has fallen," said FWN President Marily Mondejar. "We need to give her justice. We're not lawyers, just concerned citizens."
Other groups are producing their own versions of the play. Since last month, "The Vagina Monologues" has made the rounds, from UCSF, San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to the Sweetwater Station Cafe in Larkspur.
Though the statistics are daunting (4,500 felony domestic violence cases reported in San Francisco last year alone, according to the Police Department), Ensler said that she hadn't given up hope that the violence could be completely eradicated one day.
"The level of domestic violence is down here," she said. "It will be eradicated in the next 10 years. Believe it."
-- For Pinoy Pod's sneak peek at the Filipina Women's Network's productions of "The Vagina Monologues" and its Tagalog translation, "Usaping Puki," go to sfgate.com/podcasts.
-- Vagina Monologues: 7 p.m. Monday. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. Tickets: $5-$100. (415) 392-4400, www.cityboxoffice.com.
-- Usaping Puki: "The Vagina Monologues" in Tagalog. 2 p.m. Saturday. Morgan Auditorium, Academy of Art University, 491 Post St., San Francisco. Tickets: $5-$100. morgan08.eventbrite.com.
-- A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer: 7 p.m. Friday. Herbst Theatre. www.cityboxoffice.com. 7 p.m. Saturday. Morgan Auditorium, Academy of Art University, 491 Post St., San Francisco. Tickets: $5-$100. morgan08.eventbrite.com.
-- Filipina Women's Network: (415) 278-9410, ffwn.org.
-- V to the Tenth: v10.vday.org.
E-mail Michelle Devera Louie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared on page F - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle