I’m going to make a confession: I did not know who Eve Ensler was until I wrote this preview. In fact, I didn’t even know about one of her most iconic pieces, “The Vagina Monologues,” until I watched “Little Fires Everywhere” (because I watch anything with Reese Witherspoon).
Maybe not everyone shared my same experience with Ensler’s work — this may even be the first time you’ve heard about Ensler. But for School of Music, Theatre & Dance senior Levana Wang, her interest in Ensler’s work began in high school.
“When I was a senior in high school, I saw ‘Emotional Creature’ for the first time … I was really drawn to the writing of Eve Ensler,” Wang said in an email interview with The Daily. “I thought she really captured the vibes of completely different young girls around the world … and because it spoke to me, then and there, I decided I would one day do this piece for myself.”
One of the biggest questions I had for Wang was why she wanted to direct “Emotional Creature” rather than Ensler’s almost 30-year-old hit “Vagina Monologues.” Both share a similar monologue format and a focus on the experiences of women.
“I was wowed by how raw and emotional Eve Ensler makes her works in ‘Emotional Creature,’” Wang said, “She doesn’t do any sugar-coating, she keeps it real, and because it is so real, it can speak to so many young women around the world.”
She went on to talk about how she wanted to use one of Ensler’s lesser-known works to highlight the experiences of young women in more complex ways than traditional media typically portrays them.
While adaptation can be a confusing process, as reforming a person’s story and language for a new vision often leaves room for doubt, Wang was anything but doubtful about how her vision could come to fruition.
“We started planning this project back in September … It was just an idea that was circulating in my head. But once I have an idea, I know I have to make it happen,” Wang said.
As for the cast, Wang already had people in mind: the fellow women of her graduating Bachelor of Fine Arts acting class.
“I am surrounded by wonderful women in my class … I trust these women, I trust that they will bring Eve Ensler’s words to life,” Wang said. “It is such a blessing to see seven women who I love on the screen at one time.”
Speaking of trust, Wang also worked closely with students across campus from the School of Art & Design to LSA’s Film, Television and Media department to produce the film. Wang also worked with multiple University of Michigan groups to help produce a story that fit the caliber of quality she had been envisioning since September.
“Having the money from the ArtsEngine, Depression Center, etc., was super helpful in allowing us to pay the production company and really give the film the look we were looking for in the beginning of the production process,” Wang said.
With some additional funds left over, Wang even mentioned a premiere of “Emotional Creature” at the State Theater scheduled for March 19.
Looking past the premiere, Wang has big plans for how “Emotional Creature” can have an impact on young women.
“I want to use (the show) as a vehicle to inspire young girls and young women around the world … I hope to work with nonprofits to show young women that anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” Wang said.
“Emotional Creature” captures Ensler’s emotions and adds new perspective and design, revamped in a 20-minute film. So, from me to you, why not watch Wang’s “Emotional Creature” this Friday at 8 p.m.? I certainly will. Check out the “Emotional Creature” event page for more information.
Daily Arts Writer Matthew Eggers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.