Shanghai Repertory Theater premieres its staging of The Vagina Monologues tonight at the Ke Center for Contemporary Arts, a show which serves as the highlight of SRT’s June Extravaganza. We caught a dress rehearsal last night, and can report with confidence that several performers managed to transmit the full power of the original text penned by Eve Ensler.
Christy Shapiro, an alumna of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York who was also featured recently in other productions, spoke briefly with us in-between ululating vocal warm-ups.
So how long have you been in Shanghai and what are you doing here?
CP: I’ve been here for seven years. Actually, I came as a trailing spouse. My husband’s job transferred him here and I found it to be quite lucrative for me here too. I just had a baby here ten months ago.
Congratulations! So, how long have you been involved in the theater?
CP: Actually I started out in architecture. I went to architecture school first and did that for a couple of years, and then realized I wasn’t cut out to be an architect. So I went to the theater in New York in the evening.
You went to the American Academy. I went there too.
CP: You were probably in the day program. The evening program students were somewhat the stepchildren of the school…
That’s not true! In the past few years, the few people from the school that have become famous have been from the evening program or the summer program (Anne Hathaway, Adrien Brody, Michael Pitt, etc.)
CP: I think you meet the most interesting people then. I mean, we were all over the age map. We had someone who was 17, and at the time I think I was 26 or 27. And we had a guy who was sixty, who looked like Abe Vigoda. And he had a career as a psychiatrist, and then as a producer, and he decided that he just wanted to be an actor. I see him in movies all the time now. I mean they’re just bit parts, but he’s got a career.
Tell us about a little bit about the show.
CP: I think [director Maja-Stina Wang] has done a wonderful thing with the show. It’s silly, when you tell people the name of this show, a lot of people are like…’Ooh, you know, I’m not sure about that.’ And I’ve actually performed this a couple of times in Shanghai already, but this is the first time that I we haven’t done it as a reading. It’s a proper performance, and I think she’s done an amazing job with it. There’ll be music in it, there’s no intermission so it goes quite fast. I don’t think you’ll feel like you’re sitting there for a long time just listening to people say a monologue, so I think it’s exciting.
What about your role in particular?
CP: The monologue I’m doing means a lot to me, because I just had a baby. I’m doing the birth piece, and it’s the very last piece. It’s kind of written like a poem, so you’d think it’d be easier to perform, but I have a big job because it’s the last piece that’s spoken. And it’s right after the woman who does all the…orgasms, haha, and the moans. So after you’ve laughed and cried, I kind of make you cry again, and the show ends. That’s the accent, the highlight of the show.
So for anyone who isn’t sure about the show, why do you think they should go?
CP: God, because it’s a bunch of beautiful ladies, and it’s so much deeper than just talk about vaginas! There’s so many funny things that happen in this, and it’s just about the celebration of women. And they’re beautiful, they’re nice to look at, and they do a little bit of singing. I think it’s a celebration of life, actually.
Performances for the Vagina Monologues are at 8pm on Friday, and Saturday, and 3pm on Sunday. Tickets available at the door (150RMB).
Ke Center for Contemporary Arts // 613-B Kaixuan Road, near Yan’an West Road (凯旋路613号，近延安西路）
Related: SLAM Theater at the Ke Center