16 locals aim to share women’s stories, spark conversation through ‘Vagina Monologues’

  • The cast of Arena Civic Theatre’s production of “The Vagina Monologues” rehearses on Monday in preparation for its weekend show at the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew. Staff photo/Melina Bourdeau

  • Maureen McElligott reads her monologue, “Hair,” in preparation for the upcoming show, “The Vagina Monologues,” put on by Arena Civic Theatre. Staff photo/Melina Bourdeau

  • From left, Jackie Walsh, Vicki Hicks, Dawn Berne-Allen and Jennifer Ferrara Remillard read a monologue in preparation for the upcoming play, “The Vagina Monologues,” put on by Arena Civic Theatre. Staff photo/Melina Bourdeau

Staff Writer
Published: 2/13/2020 7:03:19 PM

GREENFIELD — For those looking to celebrate a different V-Day on Valentine’s Day weekend, Arena Civic Theatre (ACT) is presenting its first play of 2020: “The Vagina Monologues” by Eve Ensler.

The show, which explores female experiences through the eyes of a diverse cast of 16 local women, includes two performances on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Whiteman Room at the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew, 8 Church Street, in Greenfield.

Co-Directors Brooke Martineau and Christina Chapin said the performance is timed around V-Day 2020. Not Valentine’s Day, but rather a global movement to end violence against all women and girls (cisgender, transgender and those with fluid identities).

One of the actresses, Rachel Cronen-Townsend, of Greenfield, said that while she’s never been a part of “The Vagina Monologues” before, she hopes to empower women through the performance.

“There are a number of reasons I wanted to be in this show, most importantly because we live in a misogynistic society and I want women and women’s society to be empowered,” Cronen-Townsend said. “I took up acting three years ago. ACT is wonderful, I’m indebted to them to be involved in community theater.”

“It’s so powerful, I wanted to be part of it, knowing I would find this community of women that have been great and kind,” agreed 17-year-old Isabelle Bouvier, of Amherst, who is also performing. “I’ve learned a lot from these women and it’s helped me find my voice. Every woman should come to see this show as many times as they can.”

Martineau said she originally directed “The Vagina Monologues” for four years while in college. To perform the play as part of the V-Day 2020 movement, there are rules dictated on vday.org, which, this year, included having the actresses read directly from flash cards or a script.

“I think it’s to remind people that these are real women’s stories rather than the actor’s,” Martineau said. “It’s been a collaborative process creating a community of women. We actually came up with this setting like a bar room, sitting and listening to these stories together.”

Chapin said she finds the stories told through the play immerse the audience.

“It’s combining storytelling with a character, and they’re such good stories that even when the person is done, it cements in your mind and you’re still immersed in it,” she said.

The show has also proved to be multi-generational, with mother and daughter Vicki Hicks and Ava Hicks-Mazzallo, of Leeds, deciding to be in the show together.

“I saw the show at my daughter’s school in New York and we decided to do it together this year,” Hicks explained. “It was an opportunity to have a conversation at a level we don’t often do. I’ve never acted before, but this is something I wanted to do. It’s a diverse group of people and a terrific show.”

All tickets are $10, and all of the proceeds will be donated to Greenfield Community College’s Women’s Foundation, supporting women in achieving their educational goals.

Due to sensitive themes, this show is not recommended for children.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at 413-772-0261, ext. 263 or mbourdeau@recorder.com.

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