reviews and recommendations

The Vagina Monologues, Osaka

I’m not totally sure how this happened, but I nearly made it to the ripe age of 30 without having seen The Vagina Monologues. Smack on the wrist.

Luckily for me, my friends put on a performance this month. Shows are generally overseen by the V-Day feminist organisation, giving people the freedom to run their own events, and so it was that the Vagina Monologues Osaka branch was born.

If you’re not all that familiar with the Monologues, it’s a play in many – many – scenes. Eve Ensler wrote it after interviewing several hundred women about sex, vaginas, and other women’s issues. Sure, it’s been controversial over the years. Some people see it as ‘man-hating’, but that’s never been the point of the show. The main purpose is to celebrate the vagina and everything about it.

Another ‘sticking point’ has been about the inclusion (or not) of trans women in the Monologues. I can tell you that they’re very well represented here – well, they represented themselves, easily and confidently.

The first performances were one-woman shows, but the folks I know rounded up a big enough group to do every part separately. That helped make all the pieces feel different, and that bit more personal.

With a huge amount of support from publications like Kansai Scene, this lot sold out. And I don’t mean in the terrible, fame’s-gone-to-your-head-girl way, I mean they packed the venue. Every seat had a bum on it, every standing space was stood in, and some people had to peer through the door.

Those of us who got in early enough to nab a seat got to sit next to these:

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If you’re not 100% sure what you’re seeing here, have a cheeky zoom in.

Yes, folks, they lined the walls with hundreds of origami vaginas. We were each allowed to take one home as a keepsake. (Mine’s yellow.)

The Vagina Monologues contains a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. They’re balanced by darker, more raw and sobering parts of the show. I admire how it’s all staged and structured – it never feels abrupt. We went from screaming the c-word in unison to nearly in tears. And back to various types of moans.

Parts of the show were performed in Japanese (about a third if I remember rightly). Helpful projectors around the room kept us all up to speed. The impact of each section, funny or thought-provoking, is no less powerful in a different language.

If there’s ever a performance of The Vagina Monologues near you, I don’t just encourage you to see it. I urge you. It will, ultimately, make you laugh AND think. You’ll leave with a new perspective on certain things – and maybe a small paper vagina of your own.