Following my interview with Rose last week, (An interview with Rose Cooper, director of VDAY CENTRAL COAST 2017) I had a conversation with renowned local actress, Pollyanna Forshaw. Like Rose, Polly was an original cast member when “The Vagina Monologues” was staged on the Central Coast for V-Day 2008, so I thought it would be interesting to have her perspective; what is it like to revisit the show in 2017?
Hi Polly, would you like to tell us how you first learn about the VDay movement, why you think it’s important, and what you think have been its most important achievements to date? What does it mean to you, personally?
How did you become involved with VDay Wyong 2007/8, and how would you describe your experience?
I realised from the first performance it was an important work on so many levels. When I saw the professional production I felt that much was lost despite the idea that we are only the voices of others’ experiences. Despite my bravura I was a little hesitant about auditioning. But again, the social justice aspect won over my reticence and I was cast to deliver the monologue of the Japanese Comfort Women. It was a moving piece and right at the time many of those women were reliving their experiences in court and in the international media.
What prompted you to audition for the “The Vagina Monologues” this year?
I knew Rose was directing and that she would bring an earthiness to the production. When I heaRd it was on in the Rhythm Hut I was doubly wanting to audition as I feel it is the perfect venue to encompass the authentic and the intimate. Plus I think more young people will come to this production, and it is their world now and they need to know what goes on in other parts of it. Having said that, I do believe young people today are more aware than we ever were… The money raised will go to education in schools and that too is important as a continuation of the anti-domestic violence programs that need to continue.
How did you feel about joining the new production. In what ways does it differ from your previous experience?
I am excited and anxious. It is smaller than the last production. It is a cosier team because of our low-key rehearsals and getting to know each other. Both productions were great and full of talented women but I feel this has more of the initial ethos behind Eve Ensler’s ideas. I love percussion and the gravitas and pulses it brings and while we had an amazing female band last time (The Housework Can Wait) I am looking forward to drums and flute.
What do you think of this show generally; how would you describe it to someone who hasn’t seen “The Vagina Monologues” before? What are your impressions, and what can audiences expect?
Is there anything about this year’s spotlight that particularly speaks to you? Are there any other monologues in the show that you have especially strong feelings about in any way?
The monologues speak for themselves as women’s experiences. We can all identitfy with at least one of them.The challenge faced by the transgendered I find moving. Are we really civilised? I have never experienced workplace sexual harassment, but know it to a real problem in some environments. For me, the monologue I am presenting has real emotional resonances as a couple of my own children’s births were considered horrific but the amazing miracle of it all over-arches any other memory that is engraved by the experience. The piece brings me back to seeing the small vulnerable and sweet sticky creatures that have become beautiful and courageous women. As we age I think we get soppier!
What are you hoping VDay Central Coast 2017 will achieve, and what do you hope audiences will take away from it?
Achieve? I am a believer in the drip method of coffee and experience. Again…open the conversation. We talk a lot about the global village, less about a global sisterhood. I hope many young ones and many men will see this and be able to talk about it. However, many of the male partners of my friends who are coming say…It’s not my thing! I think this is a doco as well as a theatre piece… It’s a shame and I think it’s that word “vagina” they are still hesitant of. Even I would like it to trip off my tongue more readily than it does in some company… whereas puppetry of the penis elicits nary a real response.
What are your hopes for the future of the VDay movement on the Central Coast and are you optimistic they’ll be realized?
VDay is only part of a broad picture of erasing all violence against all people. Many men are oppressed in one way or another too. It needs brave people like Rose to continue after this event. Maybe it will go to quietness again. We are all involved with other projects but … drip, drip, drip. If one person picks up a brochure, sends $10 off to women in Pakistan raising goats, sends one overseas girl-child to school, stands up for one person in public , stands up for themselves as a woman… We are not far from the time (a bare half century) when my own single working mother had to have a male guarantor to buy a fridge! I could not believe it at 15 and told the male salesman in no uncertain terms… but …try that today. I faced something similar when buying a new car recently… not on the financial realm but certainly on the “what do you know?” realm. It is only because some strong, brave ones keep at it that anything changes. I thank them.
Thank you, Polly, for sharing your thoughts and insights with us. I’m looking forward to seeing your performance.
For more information on VDAY CENTRAL COAST and the VDAY movement, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/1587561004880944/