"The Vagina Monologues" had a successful first run at Auburn Public Theater in March, and director Angela Daddabbo is looking forward to the encore performance there Friday evening.
"(The first run) exceeded expectations in every way," Daddabbo said.
The show was first performed at the downtown Auburn theater three times in celebration of Women's History Month. The play was written by Eve Ensler in 1996 after she conducted interviews with hundreds of women about their experiences with womanhood, sexuality and violence. It has been continually revised and updated over the past two decades.
Daddabbo said that some people who want to attend a show will always miss out if it takes place one weekend only, so Friday's encore performance is for them. Going forward, she would like to stage a performance with a different cast every year, or every other year, during Women's History Month.
Friday's performance features women from the Auburn community, including Emma Bauso, Beth Beer Cuddy, Amy Doyle, Rhoda Overstreet-Wilson, Gwen Webber-McLeod and Sarah Yaw. Due to the structure of the show, the cast size can vary.
"How many plays do you know where the material is static and you can cast one, three, seven, 15, 40 and it still works?" Daddabbo said.
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One of Ensler's notes to directors is to rehearse as little as possible in order to make the show feel spontaneous. The actors also aren't required to memorize their monologues. The multi-generational cast first gathered around Daddabbo's kitchen table, and she wanted to let them connect to the language and truth of the play during that reading.
Daddabbo credits Ensler's writing as "raw, available, immediate, powerful, poetic," adding that "if it wasn't all of those things, it would have been gone by now."
The director said there is a double standard when it comes to how (and how much) men talk about their own genitalia, with jokes about it being fairly normalized by society. Women don't have this same experience, she continued, and talking about their genitalia — even among other women — is more likely to be considered taboo.
"If you don't name it accurately, you can't understand it accurately. We're way behind in this department. We must do this play. Women are counting on us," she said.
When asked about her favorite piece from "The Vagina Monologues," Daddabbo said that was like asking about a favorite child — but she cited the poetry of "I Was There in the Room," which describes Ensler's experience attending the birth of her granddaughter.
"I love every line of it," she said. "There's not a single false note in the entire thing. Which is amazing to me."