THEATRE DIRECTOR WINS FEMINIST AWARD FOR ALL-MALE CAST OF VAGINA MONOLOGUES
Abingdon Theatre Company in New York City is known for its progressive beliefs. They continue to push limits and challenge the status quo with their most recent production of The Vagina Monologues, which premiered May 31st 2018, to a sold out house at the June Havoc Theater.
Director Aaron Fleming explains that he had a new vision for the play: a cast of all men, telling the stories of women and women’s bodies.
The Vagina Monologues is a well-known play written by Eve Ensler which first premiered in 1996. A series of individual monologues told by women of all walks of life, The Vagina Monologues delves into the stories of self identity, rape, genital mutilation, relationships, body image, sex work, and reproduction.
“We’re living in a new era,” says Fleming, “one in which men and women are sharing the stage equally, and I’m all about equality. If a woman can play a man in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, why can’t men tell the deeply personal and intimate stories of women’s relationships with their vaginas? I don’t know, I just don’t see how those are different.”
The production was met with rave reviews; the New York Times called it “profound and moving seeing men interpreting the incredibly exposing and vulnerable nature of these stories that they could in no way ever possibly understand or relate to”. Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer said after the invited dress on May 30th, “I never knew women actually felt stuff down there. But once I heard a man saying it, it really hit me that, wow, women’s bodies are crazy.” Producer Harvey Weinstein, who was a friend of cast member Louis CK, also attended the invited dress and commented, “It’s so weird, I never thought my wife actually felt pain when she was giving birth, I always thought maybe she was just a bit of a pussy, but when I heard Louis depicting the act of giving birth, I was like, oh shit, maybe it actually does hurt!”
The Board of Feminist Acting (referred to as BOFA) voted by a 64-36 margin to award the June Osborne Feminist Theatre Award (referred to as JOFTA) to Aaron Fleming after first previews of the show for his “brilliant, exquisite and ground-breaking revival of a show too often performed by women”.
Fleming announced this win on air during the premier while being interviewed on the red carpet by Pamela Trifkin of US Weekly.
“Did you hear about the BOFA ruling?” said Fleming to Trifkin. “What’s BOFA?” said Trifkin, whose realm of reporting usually stays in sports. Fleming yelled, “BOFA deze nuts!” before running backstage while laughing to join his cast.