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Writing their own 'Vagina Monologues'

Eve Ensler's production is the inspiration for a daylong workshop that explores sexuality.

March 11, 2003|Renee Tawa | Times Staff Writer

Forget about performance art, the women are told at the write-your-own-version of "The Vagina Monologues" workshop. No one should try to replicate Lara Flynn Boyle's or Julianna Margulies' provocative odes to sex or any of the other monologues that were read by stars in Eve Ensler's theatrical production, drama therapist Blair Glaser tells participants at workshops around the country.

Instead, Glaser, who will hold the one-day workshop in Malibu on Saturday, keeps the focus on sexuality. "It's not like a playwriting workshop," said Glaser, who runs drama therapy groups in New York. "It's not about making it cute or funny. It's much more about exploration."

"The Vagina Monologues," which closed last May at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles, has turned into a pop culture phenomenon, with performances continuing around the world.

In the show, women usually sit on a bare stage, reading monologues that can move the audience to tears or hysterics. Critics have lauded the production's blunt talk about such issues as sexual shame and pleasure.

Glaser has worked with Ensler through V-Day, an organization founded by the playwright to help stop violence against women. Encouraged by Ensler, Glaser began leading the writing workshops in October 2000.

So far, she has held 12 sessions, drawing women ages 20 to 55, including those who are menopausal. "That's been lovely," Glaser said. "There's a certain rebirth that happens. It's really an important process that we need to honor -- honoring the death of a certain shape of our sexuality."

She leads the women through writing and drama exercises, and movement based on the quigong, a traditional Chinese discipline emphasizing breathing and meditation. No clothing is removed, Glaser stressed. At the end of the workshop, the women write their own monologues and, if they want to, read them in front of the group.

"It was a real nice, intimate workshop for women," said Irene Schlagman, 53, a Long Island resident who participated in a New York session. "I think this brings up a lot of issues about women and how we feel about our bodies."

The $150 workshop will be held at a private residence from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Information: (212) 726-1592 or www.spiritplay.org.

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