The Vagina Monologues

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

25/08/2010 - 11/09/2010

Production Details


It was a theatrical phenomenon around the globe; now The Vagina Monologues returns to Auckland from August 26th. A revolving cast of 20 of Auckland’s finest actresses, including Antonia Prebble, Jodie Rimmer, Sara Wiseman and Anna Jullienne, plus special guests, will bring Eve Ensler’s seminal work to the new generation of theatre-goers. 

Searingly funny, sometimes shocking, moving and unashamedly honest, The Vagina Monologues moves beyond embarrassment and fear and examines how “down there” is a means of female empowerment and the ultimate embodiment of individuality. These potent stories from a range of ages, ethnicities and sexualities will make for a jubilant night at the theatre. 

Producer and actress Sara Wiseman (most recently seen in The Cult) is excited about bringing The Vagina Monologues to Auckland again in her debut role as a producer. “It’s been eight years since the last professional production of the show in Auckland, which means there is a large audience who won’t have seen this fantastic piece.”

Eight years is enough time to do some growing up, and Wiseman wants to give several actresses who have recently had children an opportunity to get back on the stage. “Usually a professional theatre production, with a full-time rehearsal schedule followed by weeks of performing in the evening, simply isn’t possible for new mums. But our revolving casts make it an achievable commitment for those actresses. We all benefit from keeping these women connected and vital in our industry.” 

The Vagina Monologues will be presented in conjunction with the launch of The Silver Ribbon Foundation’s Awareness Month in September, New Zealand’s fledgling gynecological cancers foundation. 

There’s a plethora of stunning talent!
Beth Allen (Shortland Street), Hannah Banks (The Jacqui Brown Diaries), Alison Bruce (Holding the Man, Mercy Peak), Lisa Chappell (The Importance of Being Earnest, The Cult, McLeod’s Daughters), Chelsie Preston-Crayford (The Cult, Home by Christmas), Jacque Drew (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Some Girls), Kate-Louise Elliot (Outrageous Fortune), Gabrielle Henderson, Rachel House (Whale Rider, Boy), Anna Jullienne (Shortland Street), Natalie Medlock (Blinkers and Spurs, The Giant Face), Rachel Nash (The Cult), Toni Potter (Shortland Street, Horse Play),
Antonia Prebble (Outrageous Fortune), Sylvia Rands, Jodie Rimmer (In My Father’s Den, Separation City), Sophie Roberts (Broken China, Wolf’s Lair), Fleur Saville (Shortland Street, The Giant Face),Fern Sutherland, Sara Wiseman (The Cult).

Direction: Craig Hall, Caroline Bell-Booth, Margaret-Mary Collins
Designer: Simon Coleman

"Spellbinding, funny, and almost unbearably moving. . . . Written with a bluntness that is nevertheless intensely lyrical, it is both a work of art and an incisive piece of cultural history, a poem and a polemic, a performance and a balm and a benediction."     – Variety

The Vagina Monologues plays

August 25th -September 11th 2010, 8pm
5pm shows on Sunday
Matinee: Saturday 4th September, 2pm
The Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD
Adults: $28, Concessions: $24, Actors Equity/ Students: $20
Bookings through iticket –, or 09 361 1000
Door sales available on the night

Multimedia Director: Peter Salmon 
Designer: Simon Coleman 

A remarkable triumph

Review by Karyn Cushen 27th Aug 2010

“According to The Solitary Vice, a book for doctors that came out in the 1890s, women who masturbate tend to eat a lot of foods containing mustard and vinegar.” 

This fact, amongst a plethora of others, is what greets me as I take my seat in the dimmed Basement Theatre. It has been fourteen years since Eve Ensler, an American playwright, performer, feminist and activist, wrote the first draft of The Vagina Monologues and eight years since Auckland audiences last experienced a professional production of this internationally acclaimed classic. 

In short, The Vagina Monologues is a manifestation of the interviews Ensler candidly undertook with women across the globe to ascertain their thoughts on sex, relationships and violence against women. The production is episodic, made up of duelling monologues, with every monologue relating to the vagina, whether through sex, rape, menstruation, orgasm, birth or masturbation.

Originally a solo performance, The Vagina Monologues has been subjected to an ever blossoming cast, with this particular production adopting a revolving cast of twenty renowned Auckland-based actresses, with only five performing on any given night. Similarly, each permutation is guided by a different director. Last night The Basement played host to Alison Bruce, Chelsie Preston-Crayford, Michele Hine, Toni Potter and Fern Sutherland, directed by Caroline Bell-Booth.

The performance begins with a strong opening monologue by Bruce, as she confidently, through the perspective of Ensler, ponders the awkwardness of the word vagina: “It sounds like an infection at best, maybe a medical instrument, ‘Hurry, nurse, bring me the vagina’.” This comic segment visibly relaxes the audience and seamlessly fades to the next monologue, which happens to focus on the virtues of pubic hair.

Each monologue, whether it relates to Sutherland’s Angry Vagina, Preston-Crayford’s Little Coochie Snatcher, Potter’s sexual experience with Bob, or Hine’s reclamation of the word cunt, is periodically segmented with vox pops that are projected on the wall behind the evenly seated actresses. While this is a fascinating way to break up the dialogue, I find it somewhat disconcerting to now know what Judy Bailey, the Mother of the Nation, thinks her vagina smells like. Ahem.

All five actresses are flawless, all simply enthralling and all embody Ensler’s women expertly, as they shift between ages, ethnicities, social classes and countries. But it is Bruce who truly impresses with her performance of the penultimate monologue, which concerns a former-lawyer-now-sex-worker that specialises in assisting women to locate their unique moan. Evidently, what follows is a recital of numerous moans – the militant bi-sexual moan, the machine gun moan, the wasp moan – climaxing with the triple orgasm moan.

Despite the restraints of a tight script and a handful of convincing accents, the performance manages to embody a distinct New Zealand flavour through local references: Queen Street, The Britomart and Westfield St Lukes, and the soulful tunes of L.A Mitchell, Flip Grater, Opensouls and Julia Deans. 

If the success of a production is marked by the number of sell-out shows and the sheer rapture of the audience, then this production of The Vagina Monologues is a remarkable triumph. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Editor August 28th, 2010

2nd night, different group, review on TV3 website:
Fri, 27 Aug 2010 5:44p.m.

A play all about ‘down there’, hmmm. Really? What’s there to talk about? How would that make an interesting play - wouldn’t it just be a little odd and possibly uncomfortable?

Unless you have read Eve Ensler’s play, The Vagina Monologues or seen it performed before, these could be some of the thoughts floating around in your head. Come on, admit it!

After attending the second night of The Vagina Monologues at The Basement I can tell you that yes, it is a play all about Vagina’s. Secondly, it makes for a VERY interesting, thought provoking, warm and funny play. And no, there’s nothing odd or uncomfortable about it, quite the opposite in fact. [More]

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Makeover brings vagina show into 21st century

Review by Janet McAllister 27th Aug 2010

Seeing Va-Jaw-Jaw eight years ago, I thought it was woman-roaring stuff that we didn’t need any more, a generation behind the times (although written in 1996). But this new rendition, full of hard-hitting and hilarious performances, has changed my mind; perhaps because – thank gawd – they’ve cut out the audience singalong.

It delivers exactly what it says: monologues. These are arresting personal stories on a minimalist dark set, without an overarching plot or interaction between players. The docudramas are famously based on playwright Eve Ensler’s interviews with 200 women. [More
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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