The heart is capable of sacrifice. So is the vagina. The heart is able to forgive and repair. It can change its shape to let us in. It can expand to let us out. So can the vagina.

Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues

Thank you to Helen Patuck for this image.
Thank you to Helen Patuck for this image.

I have no idea how the three lovely directors of The Vagina Monologues, Geneva, made their casting decisions. They knew some of the “actresses” before the auditions took place, but the rest of us were cast on the strength of a quick read-through and a few minutes of chat. And yet somehow everyone seemed to be assigned exactly the right roles, given their backgrounds, accents, strengths, insights and experiences.

Take me, for example. I was given the monologue entitled I Was There in the Room, which was based on Eve Ensler’s experience of having been present at the birth of her grand-daughter. Now while I might have been cast in this role because I’m about 15-20 years older than the rest of the cast (seriously, how is that even possible?!), I wonder if the directors also somehow intuited that I would connect emotionally with the topic. They had no idea, of course, that I’d had years of fertility treatment, or that I’m the only one out of the six “kids” in my family that doesn’t have kids of his/her own. But those things made this particular monologue incredibly poignant for me, and for weeks I couldn’t rehearse it without weeping.

During a rehearsal I told one of the directors about my tears, though not about the reasons for them, and she said that she was determined to see me cry on stage at least once… Surely it could only add to the performance! I, of course, was quite determined to hold it together. Apart from anything else, I’m constitutionally incapable of crying and speaking at the same time!

Then on the opening night of the show, not long before we were to go on stage, the lovely warrior woman who introduced my monologue told me that she’d just found out the day before that she was pregnant. It all seemed so fitting! So right! That, along with all the other stuff, was on my mind when I took to the stage. I made it nearly all the way to the end. Then I had to say my last two lines: “I was there in the room. I remember.” My voice broke and I cried. I was told later that many audience members and some of my fellow Vagina Warriors cried along with me.

And the first words that the lovely director said to me when we came off stage? “Mission accomplished!”

So this post is dedicated to all women who have given birth, to all those who some day will and to all those who would have liked to but couldn’t. You’re amazing.

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