Art and activism have always mixed well.

This week, we get both in droves.

Several churches and theater companies around southern Maine are presenting Eve Ensler’s landmark play “The Vagina Monologues.” The play coincides with VDay, a global activist movement pegged to Valentine’s Day that endeavors to end violence against women and girls. The project is funded through productions of “The Vagina Monologues,” and over the years, those productions have raised more than $75 million for VDay.

There are several productions on tap in the region:

First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, 425 Congress St., Portland, will present the show at 7 p.m. Sunday with a cast of actresses from the church — Jackie Oliveri, Linda Shary, Betsy Whitman and Jolene McGowan — and the Portland community, including Moira Driscoll and Sally Wood, both of whom are known for their work at Portland Stage Company. Proceeds benefit Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Saco-Biddeford, 60 School St., Saco, will stage the show with community volunteers at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Proceeds benefit Caring Unlimited and Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine.

Bates College in Lewiston hosts the play at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Gannett Theater, Pettigrew Hall, 305 College St., Lewiston. Proceeds benefit Abused Women’s Advocacy Project.

Bowdoin College offers three performances at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17-19 at Kresge Auditorium at the Visual Arts Center.

The play includes a series of monologues read by women. Every monologue relates to the female sexual organ. Some are happy and loving monologues; others are violent and disturbing. The overall theme of the show speaks to female empowerment.

The show has been produced many times over the years, but deserves annual attention because of the importance of the subject, Oliveri said.

“Most people would consider First Parish an unlikely sponsor for such a production. But we feel obligated to give voice to the efforts to stop violence against women and girls,” Oliveri said. “First Parish is the oldest place of worship in Portland and, as such, should be a leader in supporting such important social issues.”

At First Parish, the church will be presented at the front of the sactuary. The actors will read the play, with scripts, while sitting on stools. There will be no set, no props, no lights.

“The point is not the acting. It’s the content of what you are saying and bringing people’s attention to the way women are viewing their vaginas — and the way the world views women’s vaginas,” Oliveri said.

Marketa Ort is directing the campus production at Bates. She is a member of the student-run theater group the Robinson Players, which is presenting the play.

“Women are often exploited because of their sexuality, and ‘The Vagina Monologues’ is a way to celebrate women and not exploit them. There are some monologues that are funny and others that point to the vulnerabilities of women,” Ort said. “Whatever the monologue is portraying and whatever women go through in their lives, it is important that it is clear that they always have a voice.”

Last year, more than 5,400 VDay benefits were staged globally.

Oliveri said the play offers a great opportunity for men and women to come together for a positive and poignant social occasion.

“What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to bring women and men together to support an end to violence — and with that, a celebration of love?”

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

[email protected]

Follow him on Twitter at:


filed under: