I stood backstage, a bit nervous, a bit exited, June 26th. I wondered if my hubby made it on time. I watched our amazing group of women put on finishing last touches, some brushing hair, some rehearsing their monologues out loud, some drinking vodka for bravado.
The curtain went up; the light blinded me and I still did not know if hubby was there. I had to take the wrapping paper off our play, so I started talking to the audience, along with other two girls. As I lay on the couch, my long legs bare under the lamps, I felt them shake and tremble, but decided against changing posture – I was too anxious to improvise.
We introduced Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, dedicated to women, created by women and celebrating women.
After the intro, I ran backstage and put sad make-up on. I looked so tired, so scared, so helpless. Dark circles under eyes. Wrinkles on forehead. I rocked back and forth in front of the mirror, remembered the films about trafficking and rape.
The girl on stage was finishing her funny monologue of an angry vagina. It was always hard for me to follow her act. I would listen, laugh and fail to perform pain, to perform hurt. This time though, I put my hands over my ears and kept rocking back and forth, back and forth.
My friend introduced my monologue…dedicated to Bosnian women…rape as a systematic weapon of war… thousands women raped in the middle of
Europe…bundled up in my scarf, I walked
towards the middle of the stage. I took it off and put it on floor. I sat down
and counted till 5. Looking around with angry, tired eyes. Chin trembling. And
then I heard my voice.
…My vagina was green pastures, clear water, happy and loved, my vagina was sun-baked rocks and it was my village, my flowing, my bountiful village; my vagina used to sing, my vagina used to chat, until they came and put weapons in my vagina, put bottles and brooms and sticks in my vagina, until they forced their stinking sperm in my vagina, for 7 days, non-stop, non-stop. And all the fish died, and I became a river of corpses. My village, my flowing village, my vagina, it was destroyed, it was burnt down.
I don’t touch it anymore. I don’t go there anymore. Now, I live somewhere else and don’t know where that is…
For a moment, the room went silent. I could hear people breathing. I felt wetness on my face. Boundlessly tired, I got up. They clapped. I went backstage and couldn’t stop sobbing. I am not an actress. Nobody taught me how to leave my role on the stage. My vagina hurt and I sat alone, looking at my face in the mirror. I took off my make-up, put on mascara, red lip gloss, looked more like my own self, started breathing again.
Then, I heard yelling. Now, from the audience. Some asshole kept screaming: “how dare you say such indecent things on this stage! I have to perform here tomorrow! How can I do it, after you’ve defiled it?! Do you know how many great actors have walked here?!”
But I felt safe. I knew that the audience would protect us. They were thrown out. The lightning technician left also. Our director had to climb into his room and regulate lights. The performance went on. Our wonderful girls talked about sexual pleasure, birth, infidelity, life, vaginas; they talked about vaginas.
After it was over, as we were changing, those boys reappeared. They asked if we have the patriarch’s blessing for our play (such a logical question, yes, he said, “aha, the play is about vaginas, let’s bless is multiple times!”). The performance manager told them it was indecent to rush into the dressing room and they said “oh, like this girls need a dressing room”. My hubby told me later that they kept laughing every time they heard “clitoris”, and remarked how funny it was to watch whores. We got out safely.
The show against the violence towards women ended with the violence towards women emphasizing once more how important it is to talk about our vaginas.
I left part of my vagina there. Somehow, after this experience, I am different.
My vagina. My vagina. Me.
p.s. I rarely post my own full-face pics here, but here I am during my monologue. The pic taken by L.R.