.contact us |.about us
News > Lifestyle News ...
V-Day comes to Shanghai
( 2004-01-20 10:15) (eastday.com)

In 1996, playwright Eve Ensler took one word and turned it into an international cultural phenomenon. The word?


Now the ``Vagina Monologues,'' a collection of musings on that little-discussed part of the female anatomy, makes its Chinese version debut in Shanghai. The play, which won an Obie award in 1997 and was also nominated for Drama Desk and Helen Hayes Awards, is based on over 200 interviews with a diverse group of women.

Since it was first performed by Ensler in 1998, the ``Vagina Monologues'' has been staged in almost two dozen languages in over 800 cities across the globe, with audiences from Kenya to Paris reacting strongly to the powerful voices it expresses, in turns painfully graphic and shockingly humorous.

Producer Li Shengying of the Shanghai Drama Arts Theater reacted strongly as well when he first saw the play in New York in 2000. So strongly that he contacted the playwright to negotiate the performance of a Chinese version. It took almost two years -- Ensler was insistent that the original script had to be performed in its entirety -- but Li eventually worked out a Chinese version, true to the original. Translator Yu Rongjun, who is also with the theater, spent half a year on the translation.

``It was no easy task,"  he says, ``the frequent use of anatomic terms and slang expressions sometimes made finding the Chinese equivalent daunting.'' Yu has rearranged the original material into 12 sections, with each section featuring one or a group of soliloquies on a particular topic, ranging from the wedding night to rape. But the real challenge, for both performers and audience, is hearing the word ``vagina'' or ``yingdao'' in Chinese, repeated over a hundred times in an hour and a half of psychological self-examination and bittersweet sexuality.

``I had never actually said this word in public before I started rehearsing this play,'' admits 40-something actress Song Ruhui. ``But after reading the script, I was deeply moved by what the different women said, whether it was about the beauty of their bodies or the sexual violation they encountered, and this has set me free from any embarrassment.'' Which was exactly Ensler's point in creating the play: the vagina, and by extension, women's sexuality, has long been a dirty little secret.

By airing their feelings about their bodies, women's self-esteem rises, and they learn that it's OK to be who they are. Director Lei Guohua, who is a woman, sees eye-to-eye with Ensler. She argues that despite its somewhat racy title, the play should not be considered controversial but rather, inspiring. ``Women, whether we recognize it or not, have been told that we're not OK, we're not perfect, that there are things we should be embarrassed about,'' notes Lei, a member of the China Dramatists' Association.

``The social significance of this play is that the females in the audience are given the opportunity to wipe out the shame and embarrassment that they may still associate with their bodies or their sexuality.'' Lei has deliberately organized an all-female crew, from the cast, which features Song, Zhu Fang and Sun Ningfang, to the costume designers, hoping that their own experiences and understanding of living as women can help enhance the interactive communication with audiences bound by same gender. So what about the other half?

Will men feel accused, angry, or uninvolved, as the women focus on the complex feelings and thoughts that surround the topic of their vaginas? ``I hope not,'' says Yu, also a director. ``I think the men will leave without feeling guilty or offended because we can see the stories of our grandmothers, mothers, wives and daughters, and it will make us think about the right way to treat and love women.'' The play was staged in English once in the city in March, 2001 in the Shanghai American Club, but the non-Chinese speakers don't need to regret not going because the drama theater is readying an English version for the near future.

Time: 7:15 pm February 10-March 10 (closed on every Monday and Tuesday)

Venue: Shanghai Drama Arts Theater, 288 Anfu Rd.

Tickets: 100 yuan

Tel: 6473-0123, 6473-4567

  Today's Top News   Top Lifestyle News
+Chen's plan endangers peace across Straits
( 2004-01-19)
+SARS vaccine enters testing
( 2004-01-19)
+A nation in motion as annual ritual begins
( 2004-01-19)
+Bermuda court rules for Liaoning
( 2004-01-19)
+Old files reveal diplomatic secrets
( 2004-01-19)
+V-Day comes to Shanghai
( 2004-01-20)
+Centenarian recovers from surgery to remove gallbladder
( 2004-01-20)
+Young lovers accuse school
( 2004-01-20)
+Qipow, a new choice for young lady
( 2004-01-20)
+CCTV goes all out for galas
( 2004-01-20)
  Go to Another Section  
  Article Tools  
        .contact us |.about us
  Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved