Eve Ensler (born May 25, 1953) is an American playwright, performer, feminist, and activist, best known for her play The Vagina Monologues. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times called "The Vagina Monologues" "probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade." 1 In 2011, Ensler was awarded the Isabelle Stevenson Award at the 65th Tony Awards, which recognizes an individual from the theater community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of humanitarian, social service, or charitable organizations. 2
Ensler was born in New York City, the daughter of Chris, a housewife, and Arthur Ensler, a food industry executive. Her father was Jewish and her mother was from a Christian background. Ensler identifies as a Nichiren Buddhist and states that her spiritual practice includes chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and doing yoga.
A profile in The Nation reports, "In her 2007 book, Insecure at Last (a meditation on deadly American illusions about safety in the wake of the attacks of 9/11), she describes being raped and brutally beaten by her father, a food company CEO, from age 5 to 10." She graduated from Middlebury College in 1975. She married Richard McDermott on September 17, 1979, 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.
In June 2010 Ensler wrote an article in The Guardian in which she mentioned that she was currently receiving treatment for uterine cancer. Eve writes about her experience with cancer in her memoir In The Body of The World.
The Vagina Monologues:
Ensler wrote The Vagina Monologues in 1996. First performed in the basement of the Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village, The Vagina Monologues has been translated into 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Celebrities who have starred in the play include: Jane Fonda, Whoopi Goldberg, Idina Menzel, Glenn Close, Susan Sarandon, Marin Mazzie, Cyndi Lauper, Mary Testa, Sandra Oh and Oprah Winfrey. 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's memoir In the Body of the World was released on April 30, 2013. Booklist reviewed the book, saying, "This is a ravishing book of revelation and healing, lashing truths and deep emotion, courage and perseverance, compassion and generosity. Warm, funny, furious, and astute, as well as poetic, passionate, and heroic, Ensler harnesses all that she lost and learned to articulate a galvanizing vision of the essence of life: "The only salvation is kindness.""
Ensler has been involved in several films, including V-Day's Until The Violence Stops and the PBS documentary What I Want My Words To Do To You, and has appeared on many television shows including numerous interviews on CNN, Democracy Now, TODAY,Real Time with Bill Maher (August 26, 2005) and Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry (August 12, 2005).
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 society.
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.
In 2006, Ensler released her first major work written exclusively for the printed page. Insecure at Last: Losing It In Our Security-Obsessed World (Villard; Hardcover; October 3, 2006). In Insecure at Last, she 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." In 2006 Ensler also co-edited A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer, an anthology of writings about violence against women.
Ensler's work I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around The World, a collection of original monologues about and for girls that aims to inspire girls to take agency over their minds, bodies, hearts and curiosities, was released February 2010 in book form by Villard/Random House and made The New York Times Best Seller list. The book was workshopped in July 2010 at New York Stage and Film and Vassar College, moving toward an Off-Broadway production. The theatrical production of the piece, titled Emotional Creature, will have its United States debut at the Berkeley Repertory Theater in Berkeley, CA in June 2012. In February 2012, The South African production of Emotional Creature was nominated for a 2011 Naledi Theatre Award for Best Ensemble Production/Cutting Edge Production.
Ensler is a prominent activist addressing issues of violence against women and girls. In 1998, her experience performing The Vagina Monologues inspired her to create V-Day, a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day raises funds and awareness through annual benefit productions of The Vagina Monologues. In 2010, more than 5,400 V-Day events took place in over 1,500 locations in the U.S. and around the world. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $100 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 12,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. These safe houses provide women sanctuary from abuse, female genital mutilation and 'honor' killing. The 'V' in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.
In February 2004, Ensler, alongside Sally Field, Jane 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 close supporter of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and went to Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban. She supports Afghan 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 You.Judy Clark, Kathy Boudin, and Pamela Smart were among the writing group's participants featured in the film.
In 2011, V-Day and the Fondation Panzi (DRC), with support from UNICEF, opened the City of Joy, a new community for women survivors of gender violence in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). City of Joy will provide up to 180 Congolese women a year with an opportunity to benefit from group therapy; self-defense training; comprehensive sexuality education (covering HIV/AIDS, family planning); economic empowerment; storytelling; dance; theater; ecology and horticulture. Created from their vision, Congolese women run, operate and direct City of Joy themselves. The City of Joy celebrated its first graduating class in February 2012.
In 2012, along with the V-Day movement, Ensler created One Billion Rising, a global protest campaign to end violence, and promote justice and gender equality for women. On February 14, 2013, V-Day's 15th anniversary, women and men in countries around the world held dance actions to demand an end to violence against women and girls.
Awards and honors:
She has received numerous awards for her artistic and anti-violence work.
Awards and Honors (Select):
Tony Award - In 2011, Eve Ensler was awarded the Isabelle Stevenson Award at the 65th Tony Awards, which recognizes an individual from the theater community who has made a substantial contribution of volunteered time and effort on behalf of humanitarian, social service, or charitable organizations.,
Obie Award for THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, 1997,
Guggenheim Fellowship Award in Playwriting, 1999,
Berrilla-Kerr Award for Playwriting, 2000,
Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Solo Performance, 2001,
Amnesty International Media Spotlight Award for Leadership, 2002,
The Matrix Award, 2002,
Jury Award for Theater at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, 2002,
Lion of Judah by the United Jewish Communities, 2002.,
Sundance Film Festival's" Freedom of Expression" award for WHAT I WANT MY WORDS TO DO TO YOU, 2003,
Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from her alma mater, Middlebury College, 2003,
NETC Theatre Award, a regional Boston theatre award, 2004,
NOW Award from the Intrepid Award Gala, 2004,
The Civil Revolutionary Award from Miami Dade College, 2004,
Award for International Peace Efforts from Cardozo Law School, 2004,
The Avon Award, 2005,
The Sandra Day O'Connor Award from The Arizona Foundation for Women in Phoenix, 2005,
Honorary Doctor of Human Letters from Manhattanville College, 2005,
Honorary Doctor of Communications from Simmons College, 2006,
City of New York Proclamation in honor of founding and her work for V-Day, 2006,
OK2BU Humanitarian Award In recognition of outstanding contributions to the LGBT community, 2006,
Honorary speaker D010 at TED Talks, Dec 2010,
Ms. 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 centers (2004,2006).,
Floating Rhoda and the Glue Man,
The Vagina Monologues,
The Good Body,
In the Body of the World: A Memoir,
I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World,
Insecure at Last: Losing It in Our Security Obsessed World,
The Good Body,
A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer,
Until the Violence Stops (2004),
What I Want My Words to Do to You: Voices From Inside a Women's Maximum Security Prison (2003),
The Vagina Monologues (2002),
Fear No More: Stop Violence Against Women (2002) - interviewee
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license