“Let’s just start with the word ‘vagina’,” says a character early in Eve Ensler’s award-winning 1996 play The Vagina Monologues. “In Great Neck, they call it Pussycat … In Westchester they called it Pooki.” And here in Las Vegas, some might call it “a slot machine” while others call it “Hoover Dam.” We’ll likely learn the preferred local term when Vagina Monologues comes to The Space February 14-16—its first staging in Vegas since 2017.
Since 1998, Ensler has offered the staging rights to her play for free every Valentine’s Day, so that communities can increase awareness and raise money to stop violence against women and girls. Beginning with a singular occurrence more than 21 years ago, the Monologues now manifest in some 5,800 V-Day events annually.
The Space donated its theater for the production as an extension of its fundraising efforts, fondly called Mondays Dark in reference to a theater tradition of being closed that day. The twice-monthly show aims to raise $10,000 in 90 minutes for an array of charities.
“This is essentially a branch or a limb of Mondays Dark in the sense that yeah, it's a theatrical piece, but we're really doing it to create awareness for its message and help three specific organizations here locally who deal with these issues on a day-to-day basis," says The Space’s founder Mark Shunock.
Those three organizations—nonprofits that will split all the proceeds from V-Day—are Yoga Haven, dedicated to helping at-risk populations process traumatic experiences through yoga; Dress for Success, which provides professional clothing for low-income women; and the Rape Crisis Center, which offers myriad services for survivors of sexual assault.
Yoga Haven's Honey Tejero, Natalie Villarante and Stefanie Jillian initially reached out to Shunock to inquire about hosting the production at The Space, and are enthusiastic both for the show and the charities it will support.
"The lineup of the charities is very well thought of,” Villarante says. “There’s the Rape Crisis Center being able to provide the services when the trauma happens...and Yoga Haven can help them and give them those tools of coping mechanisms through those moments. [And] Dress for Success is just another step of basically stepping out and saying, 'I'm ready for the real world.”
The play is a mixture of both humor and sorrow, with monologues that amplify the diverse female experience—from pieces about female genital mutilation in Bosnia to how a six-year-old responded when asked questions about her body.
"The entire play is about rising up and transforming this pain into power and the stories that you'll hear, especially our local women who are giving their own personal testimonials. They have had some really horrible things [happen to them], but every single one of them is doing something amazing in the community now," Jillian says.
The production will include raffles and custom cocktails.
"It's just such a great piece. I love the fact that it changes and it brings in new themes, new concepts year to year,” Shunock says. "I think with the all the stuff that we're hearing about now— abusive men and this rape culture—[you should] come and listen to these stories. I think it's eye-opening.”
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES February 14-16, 8 p.m., $25-$50. The Space, 702-903-1070.