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Wine, women, and talk: ‘Vagina Monologues’ at Owl’s Head wine bar

Changemakers: Ridgites Stephanie Spangler and Liz Donohue coordinated two readings of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” on Feb. 10 and 11 at the Owl’s Head to raise money for women’s rights organizations.
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Call them wonder women.

A pair of Bay Ridgites will stage two readings of a powerful play about private parts next month, in order to raise funds for women’s health and rights around the world. The readings of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” on Feb. 10 and 11 at the Owl’s Head wine bar, will allow local women to explore difficult issues that they rarely have a chance to discuss in public, said one of the organizers.

“People still don’t like to talk about women’s health issues,” said Liz Donohue, who joined Stephanie Spangler to plan the event. “It’s usually male politicians who talk about women’s health issues, and this sort of flies in the face of that. Some of the topics make people a little uncomfortable, and we really have to push through that discomfort and talk about the hard issues.”

The 1996 play considers topics including rape, periods, sex work, and body image through personal monologues, with titles such as “My Angry Vagina,” “Reclaiming C----,” and “My Vagina Was My Village.” Donohue and Spangler first saw the play in college, and felt inspired to return to it following last year’s Women’s March.

Spangler cast 16 local Brooklynites for this year’s event, and she says that reaching out to community members instead of professional actors will help the audience to engage with the subject matter.

“I think this show in particular is a great way to draw attention to really serious issues, but it’s through theater, so it’s really engaging, and it can sometimes transcend political affiliation,” she said. “Having non-actors participate helps them hear stories they wouldn’t have heard before and helps engage the community.”

The production has added relevance this year because of the #MeToo movement against sexual assault. Although the readings came long before the hashtag, their lasting relevance proves how pervasive sexual assault has been for women throughout history, said Spangler.

“This piece does speak to systemic rape and assault in our day-to-day culture, and it highlights how large of a movement #MeToo is, and how many people it really affects, and I think it gives everyone a safe space to talk about it,” she said.

Spangler and Donohue hope the show can raise $3,000 for the V-Day Campaign, an anti-violence group associated with the play, and for local Planned Parenthood outposts and Sanctuary for Families, an organization for survivors of gender-related violence. During the show, 10 percent of the Owl’s Head’s bar sales will also go towards Planned Parenthood.

Despite the current polarized political moment, Spangler said that the show is for people of all political affiliations.

“Women’s issue are women’s issues, regardless of our politics,” she said.

“The Vagina Monologues” at the Owl’s Head (479 74th St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Bay Ridge, www.theowlshead.com). Feb 10 and 11 at 2 pm. $15.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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