Eve Ensler's Jewish Dialogue

'Vagina Monologues' Author Discusses Drama and Faith

Brigitte Lacombe

By Simi Horwitz

Published December 11, 2012, issue of December 14, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

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.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • "Jewish Israelis and West Bank Palestinians are witnessing — and living — two very different wars." Naomi Zeveloff's first on-the-ground dispatch from Israel:
  • This deserves a whistle: Lauren Bacall's stylish wardrobe is getting its own museum exhibit at Fashion Institute of Technology.
  • How do you make people laugh when they're fighting on the front lines or ducking bombs?
  • "Hamas and others have dredged up passages form the Quran that demonize Jews horribly. Some imams rail about international Jewish conspiracies. But they’d have a much smaller audience for their ravings if Israel could find a way to lower the flames in the conflict." Do you agree with J.J. Goldberg?
  • How did Tariq Abu Khdeir go from fun-loving Palestinian-American teen to international icon in just a few short weeks? http://jd.fo/d4kkV
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.