About the Author
one of the most important "subversive" voices in the theatre
today, Eve Ensler is an American
Ensler has devoted her life to stopping violence, envisioning a planet in
which women and girls will be free to thrive, rather than merely survive.
known for her play THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES written in 1996. This
testimonial style play has been translated into over 45
languages and performed in over 130 countries, including sold-out runs at both
Off-Broadway's Westside Theater and on London's West End (2002 Olivier Award
nomination, Best Entertainment), THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES is based
on interviews with more than 200 women worldwide. It explores all too
often taboo subjects of women's sexuality in a bold and empowering way that
provides inspiration audiences around the Globe.
experience performing THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES inspired her to create
V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls.
more so than any other playwright in the world today, Eve Ensler continues to
illustrate in the most practical sense how theatre can still be used as tool
to inspire, empower, and speak out -- a compelling example of everything
Subversive Theatre is dedicated to.
Eve Ensler was born May 25, 1953 in New York
City, New York to a family of Jewish heritage. She reports having
been physically and sexually abused by her father when she was a child.
She graduated from Middlebury College in 1975. She married
Richard McDermott in 1978, and divorced him 10 years later. She is the
adoptive mother of actor Dylan McDermott, whom she adopted when he was 15
and she was 23.
VAGINA MONOLOGUES was written in 1996. First performed in the
basement of the Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich
Village, it has since been translated into 45 languages and
performed in over 130 countries. Celebrities who have starred in the
play include: Jane
Goldberg, Idina Menzel, Glenn
Sarandon, Marin Mazzie, and Oprah
Ensler was awarded the Obie Award in 1996 for ‘Best New Play’
and in 1999 was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship Award in Playwriting.
She has also received the Berrilla-Kerr Award for Playwriting, the Elliot
Norton Award for Outstanding Solo Performance, and the Jury Award for Theater
at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.
Ensler has been involved in several films and has appeared on television on Real Time with Bill Maher (August 26, 2005)
and Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry (August 12,
From October 2005 to April 2006, Ensler toured twenty North American cities
with her play THE GOOD BODY, following engagements on Broadway, at ACT
in San Francisco, and in a workshop production at Seattle Repertory Theatre. THE
GOOD BODY addresses why women of many cultures and backgrounds perceive
pressure to change the way they look in order to be accepted in the eyes of
Ensler's play, THE TREATMENT debuted on September 12, 2006, at the
Culture Project in New York City. This play explores the moral and
psychological trauma that are the result of participation in military
conflicts. It stars her adoptive son, Dylan McDermott.
Her latest work is her first book "Insecure At Last: Losing It In
Our Security-Obsessed World" (Villard; Hardcover; October 3,
2006). In it, Ensler explores how people live today, the measures people
take to keep themselves safe, and how people can experience freedom by letting
go of the deceptive notion of "protection."
Ensler is a prominent anti-violence activist. In 1998, her experience
performing THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES inspired her to create V-Day, a global movement to
stop violence against women and girls. V-Day raises funds and awareness
through annual benefit productions of The Vagina Monologues. In 2008, more
than 4000 V-Day events took place in approximately 1250 locations in the U.S.
and around the world. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $60 million
and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the
efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, launched the Karama program
in the Middle East, reopened shelters, and funded over 5,000 community-based
anti-violence programs and safe houses in Kenya, South
The 'V' in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.
In February 2004, Ensler, alongside Sally
Fonda and Christine Lahti, protested to have the Mexican
government re-investigate the slayings of hundreds of women
in Ciudad Juárez, a city along the Texas border.
Ensler is a very close supporter of the Revolutionary
Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and went to
Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban. She supports Afghani women and has organized many
programs for them. She organized one event named the "Afghani Women's
Summit For Democracy".
Ensler has led a writing group since 1998 at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility
for Women, which was portrayed in What I Want My Words To Do To
She has received numerous awards for her artistic and anti-violence work.
Awards and Honors (Select):
Award for THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, 1997
Fellowship Award in Playwriting, 1999
Award for Playwriting, 2000
Norton Award for Outstanding Solo Performance, 2001
International Media Spotlight Award for Leadership, 2002
Matrix Award, 2002
Award for Theater at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, 2002
of Judah by the United Jewish Communities,
Film Festival’s" Freedom Of Expression" award for WHAT I WANT
MY WORDS TO DO TO YOU, 2003
Doctor of Letters degree from her alma mater, Middlebury College, 2003
Theatre Award, a regional Boston theatre award, 2004
Award from the Intrepid Award Gala, 2004
Civil Revolutionary Award from Miami Dade College, 2004
for International Peace Efforts from Cardozo Law School, 2004
Avon Award, 2005
Sandra Day O’Connor Award from The Arizona Foundation for Women in
Doctor of Human Letters from Manhattanville College, 2005
Doctor of Communications from Simmons College, 2006
of New York Proclamation in honor of founding and her work for V-Day, 2006
Humanitarian Award In recognition of outstanding contributions to the LGBT
Ensler has also been honored for her effort to end violence against women
and girls by such organizations as Planned Parenthood (2004, 2006), The
Women’s Prison Association (2004), Sahkti (2004), and several LGBT
The Vagina Monologues includes a section entitled "The Little
Coochie Snorcher that Could". This portion of the play, as
originally performed, has been criticized for including a lesbian rape scene
of a 13-year-old girl by a 24-year-old woman who uses alcohol to lower the
inhibitions of her victim.
At the conclusion of the segment, the narrator (the grown-up thirteen year old
girl) fondly reminisces about the rape, claiming that it helped to nurture her
and help her grow as a woman, and finishes the play with the line, "If
it was rape, it was good rape".
The segment received criticism not only for depicting any rape as "good",
but also for forming a double standard, as elsewhere in the play,
male-on-female rape is depicted as not only inexcusable but the ultimate act
of violence against women.
The scene was modified in later performances; the young girl's age was
changed to 16, and the "good rape" line was omitted.
Bernard Goldberg listed Ensler at #96 in his 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America
(And Al Franken Is Only #37).
at Last: Losing It in Our Security Obsessed World
Am An Emotional Creature
Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer
- Until the Violence Stops (2004)
I Want My Words to Do to You: Voices From Inside a Women's Maximum
Security Prison (2003)
Vagina Monologues (2002)
No More: Stop Violence Against Women (2002) - interviewee