V-Day 2020, Cape Town: preview/interview with Marlisa Doubell of Sugar-daddy Theatre co

Event details: V-day Cape Town- the 2020 edition

✔️ The show: Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues (adapted to run for one hour – not the usual one and half running time. The VM in original format is about three hours long)

✔️ Cast: Lizanne Peters, Mamello Makhetha, Marlisa Doubell, Candice Poole, Rizelle Junuk, Candice Bernstein and Allistine Bo Grady

✔️ Director: Marlisa Doubell

✔️ Producer: Sugar-daddy Theatre co

✔️ Dates: February 2020- Wednesday 19, Thursday 20 and Wednesday 26

✔️ Time: 8pm -9pm
✔️ Venue: The Raptor Room, 79 Roeland Street, Zonnebloem, Cape Town, 7925.

✔️ Tickets: R60 flat rate. Cash only. First come, first served.

✔️ Beneficiary: Proceeds go to Rape Crisis 

V-day is almost upon us and no, we are not talking about Valentine’s Day – February 14. V-day is a global activist day- generating awareness around violence against “women and girls.” The genesis of the day goes back to February 14, 1998, when writer and activist Eve Ensler, staged a benefit performance in New York City of her ground breaking play, The Vagina Monologues. Inspired by the success of that benefit performance, she proceeded to make a V-day an annual global event. As to V-day and what it signifies, the name is often tagged as Vagina Day, Victory Day and Valentine’s Day.

V-day has become an event for empowerment;, not only increasing awareness around gender violence but also about raising funds for organisations which work with rape survivors and who often operate with scant funding.

For V-day, Ensler makes her plays available – at no cost – to theatre companies around the world. There is no royalty fee payable but the proviso is that all proceeds must go to charity. V-day is pitched at fighting violence against “women and girls”. Ensler includes anyone who identifies as a woman or girl and by extension any person who wants to be involved in rallying against the scourge of gender based violence.

V-day Cape Town has been on the go from 2016, produced by Sugar-daddy Theatre co.

Producer and actor, Marlisa Doubell told TheCapeRobyn that she had always wanted to stage The Vagina Monologues but that the rights were costly. Then she heard about V-day: The invitation to stage Ensler works at no cost in terms of rights and the exciting prospect of raising funds for worthy beneficiaries.  Doubell contacted the Eve Ensler Foundation and V-day Cape Town was launched. Her company Sugar-daddy Theatre co is the core producer, along with other partners.

The Vagina Monologues was staged for the maiden 2016 V-day Cape Town production. Doubell thinks the show duration was about one and a half hours. It featured seven performers. The original Vagina Monologues runs to about three hours. They did not stage the three hour version. For V-day 2020, they have trimmed the Vagina Monologues to one hour. It is intense material and it was felt that an hour would be just right. This is the 2nd time that they are staging The Vagina Monologues. In 2017 and 2018, they staged A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer (Ensler’s anthology of writings engaging with violence against women).

People wanted to see the Monologue again, says Doubell, so here it is again for V-day Cape Town 2020. In addition, many people have said that they have not seen the play. That spurred them to bring the play again to Cape Town, plus other factors which you can read about in the interview that follows- kind of chilling – read on about being “too heavy” and “too much.”

Marlisa Doubell provides insights into V-day Cape Town 2020 and why they are re-visiting The Vagina Monologues:

Marlisa Doubell: The Vagina Monologues focusses on everything that is taboo around vaginas and bringing hope to it. For example, there is a story about a woman, in her first sexual experience, she describes it as ‘a flood down below’. She was so embarrassed about it. The boy she was with called her stinky and smelly. She didn’t ever have sex again, until she was an old woman – and she had everything taken away. She tells her story, that she was shamed by having the flood done below. She just shut down and never had sex.

The stories in The Vagina Monologues are all around vaginas and accepting who you are; loving yourself, no matter what. It looks at society wanting to clean ‘it’ up, smell pretty with douches that smell like rain when actually, your vagina smells like a vagina and that is okay. Things like hair: Why do we need to shave our hair off – that is bizarre? We have hair for a reason, so it is encouraging us to love the way, our vaginas look; everything about them and not judge ourselves; not allow ourselves to be slut shamed. It is okay to want or enjoy sex.

There are a couple of stories of abuse and rape. These are true stories; personal stories. We have cut it down to one hour. It was updated in 2016, to include a piece on a transgender woman.

The other play that we have done for V-day Cape Town is Eve Ensler’s A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer, we did that it in 2017, 2018 and 2019 because rape is such a crisis, we kept doing that play to highlight it. Rape Crisis had us on their social media. I wrote a blog for them. All the Sugar-daddy girls have done volunteer work. We have packed bags for Rape Crisis [care packages given to survivors of rape]. The worst is packing bags for children.

I got into this [V-day] because I wanted to do The Vagina Monologues. That was the original impetus. But then we got involved when we saw how much good we were doing – how much awareness we were raising. It really hit me when last year, we had media attention. Then of course everything that happened with the march last year [the September 2019 march in protest of  Uyinene Mrwetyana- the 19-year-old University of Cape Town student was raped and murdered.] But we encountered the fact that the play was starting to be regarded as ‘too heavy’ and ‘too much’. One media entity refused to interview us about V-day. They said:  ‘It’s too much now. It’s too heavy’. That is why we have gone back to doing the Vagina Monologues which is more hopeful. It is more about encouraging women to love themselves; love their vaginas and love who are they are and accept every part of who they are.

We are encouraging men to come and see the play as well. We are all in this together. It is a united thing. We don’t want to isolate any group at all. And that includes white males. I feel that it is time now to not always point fingers and blame. Let us all gather together.

I am very proud of the work we have done. I would like to see more men there. I know that the play was written for women but hopefully we will have more men. We have made the event more relaxed. For 2020 V-day,  we have moved the venue to a bar [The Raptor Room http://www.raptorroom.co.za/]. It is more chilled and hopeful and upbeat. We want to include everyone.

V-day advisory

✔️ V-day is held every year, in February, around about the time of Valentine’s Day

✔️ For info about V-day, see https://www.vday.org/

✔️ To participate in V-day Cape Town or to donate towards production costs, contact Lizanne Peters on sugardaddytheatreco@gmail.com