The Vagina Monologues Shadow Performances Bring Deaf Women Into The Hard Conversation

Feb 7, 2018

A play in Eugene this weekend will feature actors who can not hear. In what they’re calling a shadow performance, the company will present The Vagina Monologues.

(---See video of monologue scene at bottom of this page)

According to the United Nations, one in three women in the world will experience abuse or rape in her lifetime. Women who are deaf or hard of hearing are 2.9 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than hearing women. 

Sharon Meyers (left) and Mika Scott co-direct The Vagina Monologues shadow performances.
Credit Tiffany Eckert

Sharon Meyers thinks these statistics are unacceptable.

As a deaf woman living in Eugene, she wants to help facilitate difficult conversations that may lead to change. Meyers uses American Sign Language as Leah Edelman voices.   

“They’ve just now in the deaf community found a sign, created a sign for domestic violence,” Meyers signs. “I went to Oregon School for the Deaf recently and I signed ‘domestic violence’ but none of the kids knew that sign they didn’t know that word. It hasn’t been discussed in the deaf community.”

That’s why Meyers has joined her friend Mika Scott to produce and direct The Vagina Monologues.

“Not only are we discussing it,” Meyers says in sign. “But   performing it.”

Stage Left in the VLT, Sharon Meyers signs and Mika Scott speaks—in synchrony—the monologue explaining the meaning for shadowing the show.
Credit Tiffany Eckert

The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play written by Eve Ensler in 1995. It is based on interviews with 200 women about their views on sex, relationships and violence.

Again, Meyers signs her response.

“I’ve actually emailed Eve Ensler myself,” Meyers signs. “Why? Because there are no monologues that are related to deaf or hard of hearing women.”

Meyers hasn’t gotten a response back from the original show creator yet. So, she and Scott got busy producing the Vagina Monologues in a way that the deaf community can understand. Mika Scott explains.

“All of the monologues will be shadowed, in other words, there will be an English speaking performer on the stage performing alongside someone performing in ASL,” says Scott. “So, the deaf and hard of hearing community will not be looking at an interpreter off at the side, they will actually be able watch the show.”

There are 20 women in this cast. Scott has been involved with performances of the Vagina Monologues for ten years.

“It’s been one of the greatest joys of my life,” says Scott.  “To watch women come into the beginning of the work and go ‘I can’t be on stage, I’ve never been on stage, Oh my God I can’t do this!’ and come out of it so powerful and so strong and so ready to move on.”

The Vagina Monologues Shadowed Performance opens Friday evening at The Very Little Theater in Eugene. It’s a benefit for Lane County’s domestic violence shelter, Womenspace.

For ticket information:

Watch rehearsal of monologue scene below: