It is hard to believe that in 2018 there are names of body parts people still find offensive but the Whangarei producer and director of a 22-year-old feminist play says that is the case.

Vagina - there, we've printed it and, no, it is not an obscene word.

Becky Aud-Jennison, with help from Jane Cunningham and another four cast members, is staging The Vagina Monologues, written by Eve Ensler and first played off-Broadway in 1996.

Two years later, The Vagina Monologues became the catalyst for V-Day, a global, non-profit anti-violence movement to raise money for groups working to end violence against women and girls.


The recipient of the Whangarei showings of The Vagina Monologues will be Whangarei Rape Crisis, Ms Aud-Jennison said.

The series of monologues by a cast of women — ''It is gender specific, they must have a vagina'' (although men are welcome to help with production tasks) — telling personal stories about sexual abuse, consent, body image, childbirth, medical and cultural procedures and other experiences are likely to have the audience chuckling at times, crying, feeling shock, empathy or anger.

One monologue is actually called Angry Vagina.

In recent years the play has sometimes been critiqued as dated, almost too vulva-centric and, in this era of more sexual and gender choice, less empowering as it was once.

Not so, Ms Cunningham said. Women and girls are still being targeted, abused and oppressed because of their gender and consent is still a major concept some, mainly young, men don't get, she said.

''Sexual violation is sexual violation at any time in history. There's a real buzz [about the production] because this is theatre as action.''

The cast in the Whangarei production are aged between 16 and 60-years-old. There is no censor rating but, because of the topic, it is suitable for mature audiences, Ms Aud-Jennison said.

With a background in community theatre and in life-coaching, Ms Aud-Jennison said she had brought fresh treatment to the play to keep it relevant.

''This obviously is a women-centric show, but being against violence is not a women-centric issue,'' Ms Aud-Jennison said.

She described the staging of The Vagina Monologues and the V-Day movement as being ''at the intersection of arts and activism, and it's beautiful to see how that can affect people''.

And, despite her original fears a large potential local audience might find the word vagina and the play itself too confronting, Whangarei show-goers have voted otherwise.
It is already a sell-out, with no tickets left for the three sessions being performed at One One Six Bank St next week.