UNDER the aegis of Limerick Arts Encounter and to promote the ongoing campaign 16 Days Against Violence Against Women, a women’s writing collective has created a drama rooted in fact that will be staged next in Kilmallock on Thursday 12.
Directed by Karen Fitzgibbon, ‘Blackguarded: Our Vagina Dialogues’ opened at 69 O’Connell Street on Thursday 5 to a big house that rose to applaud.
This is a Limerick City Education and Training Board initiative that evolved from Northside Family Resource Centre, commissioned by Mary McCusker.
‘Blackguarded: Our Vagina Dialogues’ inspired by Eve Ensler’s 1994 epic, ‘The Vaginal Monologues’ is based on dozens of interviews Ensler conducted with women. It has been an international hit since meriting numerous top-name participants.
The women behind this Limerick edition of original stories felt the need to express themselves in their own Irish voice and now call themselves the Limerick Women Warriors.
“The play is written and performed by the cast,” creative writing tutor Sheila Quealy makes clear. “The pieces are all memoir pieces but the writers chose to read each other’s pieces so that the focus of identifying personal experience by friends and family isn’t the focus of the play.
“The message is one of every woman’s experience, therefore it shouldn’t matter who reads or hears the pieces they should resonant without ownership”.
The common thread introduced to this ‘café society’ is the onset of the menarche – variously reported as terrifying, odd and… a source of shame.
As director, Karen Fitzgibbon says that all the group “feel passionately about 16 Days and this piece has evolved together with Sheila. The six performers are not actors at all, which brings a raw quality to the works. It’s very real, creating an awareness of abuse is like and what happens to women”.
“They are very talented as individual writers and extremely poetic”.
Cast member Frances O’Brien says she never thought in her wildest dreams that she would be involved in something like The Vagina Dialogues:
“I have been a farmer’s wife for 40 years. I love being a part of creating awareness of such an important issue”. she said.
16 Days of Action Against Violence Against Women continues until December 10. Further details on www.adaptservices.ie