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Vagina Monologues on Valentine’s Day

Quality, attitude, enthusiasm: The award-winning theater group maniACTS are celebrating their 30th anniversary

Freiburg, Feb 10, 2020

The Bertha Ottenstein Prize is awarded by the University of Freiburg to people or projects that work towards gender equality. As one of the most recent winters, the maniACTs theater group from the Department of English is not only the oldest continuously existing student theater group in the Federal Republic of Germany; it also produced the event series "Pussy Power" last year, which earned it the prize. At the center of this series are Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, which will be staged in February 2020 as The V Show in a new production. Five performances are planned.

The theater group maniACTs is bringing a new version of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues to the stage in the form of The V Show. Photo: maniACTs

Even director Maria-Xenia Hardt was surprised how far back the history of the theatre group goes. Looking at old posters for an exhibition on the occasion of the group's 30th anniversary this year, she found performance lists of the "Studiobühne des Englischen Seminars" - as the maniACTs were called before they were renamed - dating back to 1947. “We discovered, for example, that our last summer production, Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal, had already been performed by our predecessors 30 years ago. And we were convinced that the idea was new,” Hardt says. “There were also typewritten regulations from the 1970s that admonished people even then to put everything away neatly and the like,” adds co-director Charlotte Großmann. “And, by the way, on the occasion of our anniversary we would be very happy if many more people who have ever been involved with our group would contact us.”

New cast for every performance

The long tradition is astonishing in two respects: in addition to the typical fluctuation in student theaters, the ensemble is recast for each performance. “Continuity is actually more likely to be provided by the people behind the stage, who take care of make-up, finances and infrastructure,” confirms Hardt. But those who stay behind the scenes longer do not automatically increase their chances of being on stage. “I was only successful at the seventh audition and I hope that in retrospect they regret not having taken me on earlier,” grumbles Großmann playfully.

Courage to make a change

The theater group will start its anniversary year with the new production of Vagina Monologues. That a revival is the basis of its premiere may sound strange, but it is meant to be. Because even if it is based on nearly the same text, it will be a completely new arrangement and will come on stage as The V Show. It’s an exciting experiment: what happens if the same text is brought on stage again in a completely different setting? And this even though the first version was “the best visited play ever,” as Großmann notes: “We were sold out six times and had to send people away.” Presumably this courage to make a change even in the face of success is one reason for the maniACTs’ continuing popularity. “Instead of choreographic aesthetics, this time it will be a late night show,” Hardt sums up. Tradition, quality, attitude, enthusiasm - four good arguments for visiting the premiere. But the best will probably be The V Show itself.

The premiere of the Vagina Monologues will take place on ‘V-Day,” commonly known as Valentine’s Day, February 14. In the course of the Vagina Monologues, however, Eve Ensler had declared V-Day to be the international day of action against violence against women and called for the income from productions to be donated to the appropriate organizations. Which, by the way, the maniACTs did with their profits from their sold-out performances.

Jürgen Reuß


Anniversary celebration this summer

The official ceremony for the 30th anniversary will take place on July 25, 2020 with a summer production. It has not yet been decided which play it will be. Play proposals can be submitted until March 15, 2020. All this will be accompanied by a program that leaves plenty of room for celebration, remembrance and ideas for the future. Anyone who has been active in the maniACTs or their predecessors can contact the team here.


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