by Janet I. Martineau
Chocolate-covered strawberries to eat, cosmopolitans to drink and overheard candid conversations about a private part converge at Midland’s Creative 360 with a dinner theater presentation of “The Vagina Monologues.”
Presented by Black Box 180, the award-winning show stars Denyse Clayton, Susie Polito, Marci Rogers and Carol Rumba of Midland and Debbie Lake of Saginaw Township -- who collectively portray a six-year-old girl, a septuagenarian New Yorker, a vagina workshop participant, a woman who witnesses the birth of her granddaughter, a Bosnian survivor of rape, and a feminist happy to have found a man who “liked to look at it.”
“The title alone gets people talking,” says Clayton of the show penned by Eve Ensler. “What it does is show that 'vagina' is not an ugly, shocking word. In fact women of all ages and races can relate to at least one or more of its monologues and can walk away feeling proud to be a woman.”
Clayton consider the show both comedy and drama -- “both heartbreaking and hilariously heartwarming” -- as it deals with sex, relationships and violence against women as well as slang, a visit to the OB/GYN doctor and simple physical aspects of the body area.
But beyond that, she says, “Eve has raised millions of dollars from this show in the hopes of raising awareness and to end violence against women all over the world” when the show is staged as a benefit for local groups, shelters and crisis centers.
Toward that end, a portion of the proceeds from the 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 11-12, shows at Creative 360 will be donated to Shelterhouse, a non-profit serving Midland and Gladwin counties. Shelterhouse provides safety, shelter, advocacy and counseling to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Tickets are $26, which includes soups and salads provided by Cafe American, chocolate covered strawberries and the play. A cash bar will serve beer, wine and the cosmopolitans.
Clayton says Ensler conducted hundreds of interviews in writing the show, which won an Obie in 1996. “Basically the monologues wrote themselves.”
Over the years such stars as Melissa Etheridge and Whoopie Goldberg have been cast members, and it has even been performed in Muslim countries where staging it was risky. And every year Ensler pens a new monologue to highlight a current issue affecting women around the world.
Clayton and most of the rest of the cast also performed the show last year at the Midland Center for the Arts, and response was so strong they decided to restage it at Creative 360, formerly Creative Spirit Center, 1517 Bayliss.
She and others formed Black Box 180 at Creative 360 “to do something empowering, not just cookie cutter shows. Communicating the way we know best, through theatre to raise awareness for issues that are all too often overlooked.”
Last year the company debuted with a murder mystery, written by Clayton’s brother and with the audience trying to solve who done it.
For reservations to “The Vagina Monologues,” call (989) 837-1885, or you purchase tickets online at www.becreative360.org.