Elena Mangahas, right, shown performing and co-directing with Bettina Yap, left, in the 2005 all-Filipina version of Vagina Monologues in San Francisco, one of the 40+ translations of the original material. Courtesy of Elena Mangahas.

Vaginas are yucky, no?

That is the common misconception but the female body is sacred, said Emma Catague, acting executive director of the Asian Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center (APIWFSC).

The Safety Center is hosting and coordinating a production of the Vagina Monologues featuring some national performers and a local cast of power-hitters in the API community. There will be two performances on Saturday, April 17, both of which will benefit the Safety Center – the only organization that provides services to API women and children who are domestic violence survivors.

The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play written by Eve Ensler in 1996. The play was first performed at HERE Arts Center in New York City and gradually gained popularity and featured all across the United States and internationally.

The Seattle performance features a diverse cast performing different monologues to represent different ages and cultural backgrounds. The show will also feature award-winning actresses Jennifer Paz and Tamlyn Tomita as well as local community activists.

Ye-Ting Woo has been a volunteer board member for the Safety Center since 2005. This year she has joined others in performing in the Vagina Monologues.

“It is a great opportunity for the Safety Center to become more visible in the API community in communicating the violence on women through arts and theater,” she said. The Vagina Monologues represents a diversity of feelings and perspectives of the woman’s body, Woo said.

The performance is a series of monologues from the female perspective showcasing different ages and ethnicities, what they have experienced and/or how their bodies have been treated. The on-going violence perpetrated on women is a constant reminder of how relevant the Monologues are today.

Woo said this performance is timely because Washington state declared National Human Trafficking Day in January. The legislature is paying more attention to these issues which includes sexual exploitation of immigrant women – a concept related to the underlying theme of the Monologue’s “stop the violence.”

“Everyone who supports this overarching way to end violence and believe in the Safety Center’s mission should watch the Vagina Monologues,” Woo said.

Emma Catague, acting Executive Director of the Safety Center, was involved a few years ago with the Monologues and is also performing this year.

“I’m happy to be a part of the performance because it is more educational for audiences rather than [considered] just a ‘woman thing,’” Catague said.

The South Asian community is also putting together a version of the Vagina Monologues entitled Yoni Ki Baat, which is translated as ‘Talks of the Vagina’. Directed by Anjulie Ganti, the show encourages South Asian women to speak out on behalf of their bodies in an effort to obliterate violence, stigma and dogma. The performances will take place April 9 through April 11 at the University of Washington Ethnic Cultural Center.

The message to stop violence on women is far-reaching. In San Francisco, Elena Mangahas, Chairperson for the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN), is currently in production for the Vagina Monologues as well. This is the seventh year of production for the FWN. Last year, they featured the first Asian American cast and will be holding their second all Asian American cast this year on April 10. Mangahas first watched Eve Ensler’s live performance of the monologues with her two daughters.

“The monologues are well-crafted words, and they hit me like slings and arrows. Like a true evangelist Ensler took my soul to the washer. That evening I understood violence against women, and there sat next to me were the two young women I birthed into this world. That evening I found a cause, if only to guarantee a violence free world for my precious daughters,” she said.

Mangahas believes that the VM is a wake-up call. The campaign for non-violence that has women and girls in charge is what makes the VM relevant today.

“That’s what inspires us to produce year after year,” she said.

In California, Edelyn Okano, who is half Filipino and half Japanese, has been active in the Asian American theater scene in Los Angeles for years when she was invited to be a part of the Vagina Monologues performance. The all-Filipino women cast was comprised of various TV and movie actresses who united to support a local non-profit organization that advocates against violence on women.

Okano called the one night event, “a beautiful and organized piece that everyone can benefit from.”

Some people still think it is taboo to talk about vaginas, sexuality and violence – especially together – but the performance describes the female body part as a place of beauty, birth, death and violence, said Okano.

Show times and ticket prices:

Matinee show: 3:00 PM + post-show dialogue, doors open 2:30

Ticket price: $20 advance, $25 door

VIP Reception: 6:30 – 7:30 PM includes meet & greet with the cast, special VIP gifts, and hors d’oeuvres & drinks

Evening show: 8:00 PM + post-show dialogue, doors open 7:30

Ticket prices: $30 advance, $35 door

Evening show + reception: $50 (advance purchase only)

***Ticket prices are 100% tax-deductible***

Due to limited seating, we encourage you to purchase in advance. If any tickets remain on day of event, they will be sold for $25/matinee, $35/evening show.

For more information about the Seattle performance, please contact Christine Loredo at [email protected]. For more information about Yoni Ki Baat, please visit http://depts.washington.edu/ecc.

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