The Vagina Monologues poster

This Friday, February 23, local community theater group the Valley Players will host a production of “The Vagina Monologues” – an episodic play that takes up experiences of sex and sexual violence, sex work, body image, menstruation and other topics.




The production is being put on by Lost Nation – a theater company run out of Montpelier City Hall for 35 years. Kathleen Keenan, producing artistic director at Lost Nation, said that the Valley Players, in sponsoring the show, “really stepped up to host us.”

This is Lost Nation’s fifth production of “The Vagina Monologues.” The first was in 2006, a decade after American playwright Eve Ensler wrote and premiered it in New York City.


Keenan said that then and now, “the idea of putting women’s health, and safety, and sexual safety at the forefront of a conversation was the impulse behind the show.” 

The monologues in Lost Nation’s production are from Ensler’s original script, based on over 200 interviews she did with women in the mid 90s. Initially, she performed them all herself – as a single monologue, but as the play gained popularity and other theater groups took it up, it came to feature more actors. Saturday’s production will feature nine Vermont-based performers, ranging from 16 to 76 years old.

Of the production, Keenan said “it’s hilariously funny, and heart-warming, and heart-breaking.”

She said there are many humorous stories and “happy facts” about vaginas, but that some monologues are heavier, dealing with sexual violence – like one that recounts an experience of being raped during the Bosnian War.

According to the United Nations, up to 50,000 women were raped in the 1992-1995 war between Bosnia and Herzegovina. Historically, productions of “The Vagina Monologues” have sought to illuminate such acts of violence and what they have meant for women.

Ensler previously said that her inspiration for writing the play – which is often cited as a masterwork of political theater, came from her exposure of growing up in a violent society.

Some of the proceeds from Lost Nation’s production will go to Mosaic Vermont – Washington County’s sexual violence prevention and response agency. When putting on the show, theater groups typically partner with organizations that do such work.




The show has received some critique over the decades – debates that are iconic to feminist movements more generally. Some have argued that the play has a narrow perspective on what it means to identify as a woman, emphasizing Western women’s experiences too heavily, or failing to represent those with different gender identities.

At times, this had led to cancelled productions – like in 2015, when a student organization at Mount Holyoke College protested that the script lacked gender inclusivity. At other times, the conflict has catalyzed alternative productions – like in 2004, when Ensler wrote a new script to be performed by five trans women, or in 2016, when American University students rewrote and retitled the play “Breaking Ground Monologues,” allowing anyone to perform a monologue related to bodies, sexuality and sexual violence.

Keenan said that when Lost Nations did their first production in 2006, she remembers how radio stations around the country hesitated to advertise the play because it required them to say “vagina” on air.

“We’ve come a long way,” she said, “but we’re doing the show again because of how painful it is, that so much of the content is still relevant.”