The Accidental Director

I was out with friends, and friends of friends, one evening when one decided to entertain us with a rendition of one of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues. Turns out I was about the only one in the group who had never actually seen a live performance.

‘Wouldn’t it be great,’ it was agreed, ‘if we could do our own performance of all the monologues one day.’

‘In a theatre,’ said others, warming to the theme.

I have no acting skills, but I’ve written a few short plays that have been performed on the amateur stage and do a bit of volunteering (strictly front of house) for a local community theatre. I asked them if they would be willing to allow a group of enthusiastic women fulfil a dream to perform the monologues on stage in front of a paying audience. The response was an enthusiastic yes.

Soon we had a date booked and the light-hearted wishful thinking in the pub in the autumn of 2022 became a reality. February 18th was chosen, partly because it was one of the dates the theatre could offer but also because February 2023 is the 25th anniversary of the year Ensler made selections of her monologues available for V-day readings (‘V’ representing ‘violence against women and girls’ day). We have chosen the 2008 version, which is very close to the original script.

To put on a performance, even an amateur-script-in-hand-sitting-down reading, I discovered that you need to apply for performance rights, and to apply for these you need to name the theatre company that will be putting on the play and its director. And thus, literally overnight, I became the director of the Women Aloud theatre group, responsible for providing scripts, arranging rehearsals, and liaising with the theatre in regard to publicity, ticket sales, lighting, staging, bar opening. Plus a short extra programme of contemporary monologues on being a woman.

So far so good. The theatre – all volunteers – have been great, the performers in rehearsal bordering on the brilliant, and tickets selling well (all profits will go to support women’s groups in the Coventry district).

If you are at a loose end in the Coventry UK area on the 18th, then why not nosey on down to the Criterion theatre in Earlsdon and, for £5.00, enjoy an hour or so of laughs, anger, sadness, more laughs, and a drink or two from the bar.