Since starting her professional career with revered theater company Repertory Philippines at the age of 9, Monique Wilson has made her mark on stage and in film.
Although she is best known as one of only two Filipina actresses (the other being Lea Salonga) to portray Kim in the original London West End production of the acclaimed musical, Miss Saigon, Monique went on to win the Aliw Award for Best Actress for the musical Cabaret.” Her distinguished film career is also nothing to scoff at as Monique won the Film Academy of the Philippines’ Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Celso Ad. Castillo’s Kapag Iginuhit ang Hatol ng Puso in 1993 and the Gawad Urian Best Supporting Actress for Chito Roño’s Laro sa Baga in the year 2000.
But perhaps the most enduring legacy and probably the one thing that the 48-year old actress would like to be remembered by when she finally calls it a career is her involvement with The Vagina Monologues and its subsequent advocacy, VDay, a global non-profit movement that aims to raise awareness on violence against women using the acclaimed episodic play by feminist playwright Eve Ensler as a catalyst to raise funds for women’s groups.
It was Monique through her own theater outfit, The New Voice Company that first brought “The Vagina Monologues” experience to the Philippines at the start of the new millennium in the year 2000 just two years after VDay was launched.
As its name suggests, The Vagina Monologues is a series of stories, based on interviews, in which women talk about the most secret part of their bodies. Using intelligence, integrity and comparison, Ensler has created not just one of the most talked about shows in the world today but arguably the most morally serious. Moreover, the play also triumphantly demonstrates that by opening up such a subject, a whole range of human experience is also revealed.
Monique, who is also the global director for One Billion Rising, an organization that seeks to end violence against women all over the world, says even as the play nears its second decade of staging in the Philippines, there are plenty of reasons why The Vagina Monologues which as produced by The New Voice Company, is arguably the most widely attended and long-running play in country.
“Eve Ensler has given voice to a chorus of lusty, outrageous, poignant, brave, highly original and thoroughly human stories. The play brazenly explores the humor, power, pain, wisdom, outrage, mystery and excitement hidden in vaginas,” the actress pointed out.
And as Monique also noted, The Vagina Monologues remains more relevant than ever.
“We’ve been doing this for a long long time – the women’s movement, The Vagina Monologues and VDay for 20 years, Gabriela for 35 years, One Billion Rising for 7 years. We had many successes and many gains but at the same time, we’ve also seen the heightened escalation of misogyny and sexism,” Monique noted in explaining the rationale behind this year’s production of The Vagina Monologues.
“As artists and activists, we can no longer be quiet, not when we hear our own world leaders normalizing violence against women.”
As part of the global celebration of the 20th anniversary of VDay, Monique says The New Voice Company will stage The Vagina Monolgues in both English and Filipino with Philippine Daily Inquirer’s entertainment editor Rito Asilo writing the Tagalog translation.
This special V20 production is also headlined by an intriguing trio of actresses lead by Monique herself, fellow activist-actress Mae Paner a.k.a. Juana Change and Missy Maramara, a longtime mainstay of The New Voice Company who also won raves for her lead performance in Dulaang UP’s Ang Dalagita’y ‘sang Bagay na Di-buo (Dalagita). Asked why people should watch The Vagina Monologues in 2018, Mae echoed Monique’s view on the relevance of the play in today’s context.
For her part, Missy urges young audiences, especially the millennials who don’t have political leanings to watch the play in order to make sense of what is happening around them.
Gabriela secretary general Joms Salvador who Monique invited to The Vagina Monologues press conference also noted the importance of art as “a space to discuss social and political issues especially now when misogyny and sexism are blatant.”
Produced by Rosanna Abueva, this year’s edition of The Vagina Monologues will be directed by Thea Tadiar, an accomplished actress and women’s rights activist in her own right. The play will run for one V20 special weekend only, on August 11 when it will be performed in English and on August 12 when the Filipino performance will take place.
Tickets are now available at the New Voice Company and at Ticketworld at (632) 891-9999 or visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.