Describing Eve Ensler as a relentless enthusiast and dedicated feminist is accurate, yet doesn’t do her justice. Consider this: She is a Tony-winning playwright, performer, author, filmmaker and activist whose leadership on behalf of women has had a worldwide impact — from the Congo to Bosnia to American prisons. Her best-known piece, “The Vagina Monologues,” has been translated into more than 48 languages and performed in 140-plus countries. That in turn inspired Ensler to create V-Day, a global initiative to end violence against women. To date, it has generated more than $90 million.
Her current play, “Emotional Creature,” now running off-Broadway at the Pershing Square Signature Center, focuses on the daily experiences and private dreams of young women across the globe. A marriage of monologues, stories, songs and movement, the celebratory piece explores the link among all girls on their journey to adulthood.
The Forward’s Simi Horwitz talked to Ensler, who told her, “That link is the need to please others. Whatever culture, whatever country, girls are taught to please others as opposed to pleasing themselves.”
SIMI HORWITZ: What is your writing process?
EVE ENSLER: Listening. Contrary to what many people think, I do not do interviews or use a recorder. That’s not to say my plays don’t have the seeds of peoples’ stories in them. They do, but they are not testimony. They are original literary pieces, and they take a long time to write.
Which hat is more defining to you — theater artist or social activist?
I can’t say. It’s easier to be one or the other, but that’s not who I am. I’m happy to be this [amalgam]. Theater has an incredible capacity to move people to social change, to address issues, to inspire social revolution.