Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Vagina Monologues Inspire Portland

(originally posted 02/08 at wordpress)


by Blythe Pavlik

Friday night I gathered some friends and headed down to PSU for the second night’s performance of the Vagina Monologues. When we arrived on the third floor of Smith Memorial we were greeted with positive, welcoming vibes. Smiling people lined the way to the entrance creating a funnel into the ballroom where we connected with all the other vagina celebrators. Volunteers and tablers were helpful, directive and very knowledgeable. My friends and I felt well received.

The show was amazing, to say the least. Beginning with a call to sexual violence awareness, we were invited to stand up if we had ever known anyone who had been a victim of sexual violence. From my perspective, at least 90% of the audience rose from their seats silently. A chilling reminder that sexual violence awareness still meets with Goliath-size challenges.

In line with the heavy and light polarity of the Vagina Monologues, the Director and Producer (respectively), Erin Glesne-Smith and Anna Eichhorn redirected the heaviness following our stand for sexual violence awareness with a playful challenge of who could yell “VAGINA” louder, the men or the women in the audience. This challenge was multi layered for many audience members and for varying reasons. Speaking for myself, asserting my powerful voice does not come easily. Then adding the taboo word “vagina” to the process only serves to redden cheeks and shake voices. I believe that neither men nor women “won” the challenge. The challenge in and of itself was to speak up and speak with authentic power. And we did!

The performances were funny, heartfelt, thoughtful, deep, pain inducing, and raw. Every actress offered herself completely to her lines and to her character. Roles seemed to be perfectly matched with the people who brought them to life. I cried and laughed. I even felt rage for a moment or two – only to be brought back quickly by Eve Ensler’s amazingly delicate balance of hard truth and light liberation.

Intermission brought with it the hope of winning something generously donated from local companies. I cheered my raffle participating friends on and shared in their sorrow when they did not hear their ticket numbers called.

As the second half of the show come to an end I walked away transformed... again. Having seen the Vagina Monologues two times prior, I was not merely present for the entertainment. I came to the performance, as did so many other people, to be part of a unique and sacred community of people who want to talk about women’s sexuality. I came to be reminded that I am not alone. I came to be embraced by people who care very deeply about resolving sexual violence and patriarchal oppression. I came to be counted as part of the solution.

I would like to thank the amazing actresses for volunteering their time and energy so the community could be transported into the stories of the women who were originally interviewed by Eve Ensler. Thanks to (in order of appearance): Sindy Avila, Bianca Fornoni, Louisa Bruschi, Nicole Jarvis, Krystal Kyle, Boz Schurr, Anna Eichhorn, Louisa Bruschi, Kamaryn Whitfield, Rachel Patrick, Abby Bohannan, Evanna Bradley, Jennifer Howell, and Nicole Heinzmann. Also a BIG thank you to the ASL interpreters: Trisha Banning and Rebeka Kindblade; and to Bianca Formoni, Louisa Bruchi, and Sindy Avila who helped introduce the show.

Of course the show could not have gone on with out Erin Glesne -Smith, Director; Anna Eichhorn, Producer; and Amy Staples, Emcee.

Thanks to the following local businesses for the raffle donations: Stumptown Coffee, Naked City Clothing, The Fresh Pot, Sweetpea Baking, Global Exchange, Labrador Community Store, Redwing Coffee, Presents of Mind, Sweet Masterpiece, In Other Words, It’s My Pleasure, Silverado Portland, The Blend Coffee, Tea Chai Te, and Le Bistro Montage. (Boy do we like coffee!)

Thank you to the organizations who hosted tables: Amnesty International, Bradley Angel House, Clackamas Women’s Services, Department of Peace and Non-Violence, IRCO-RIFS, Men Against Rape, NARAL, Passion Consultants, Portland International Women’s Day, Portland Women’s Crisis Line, Queer Caucus, Queer Resource Center, Raphael House, Sexual Assault Resource Center, Student Health and Counseling, Social Welfare Action Alliance, VOX (Planned Parenthood @ PSU) and the Women’s Studies Spring Celebration.


1st Photo courtesy ofUniversity of

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