Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sara Juli- Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis

photo by Arthur Fink.

Motherhood.....baking pies, doing the laundry, reading to the kids, kisses, hugs bladder control! Giving birth to two babies created a condition called Tense Vagina. Welcome to the world of mother and dance performance artist Sara Juli.

In this hour long solo performed to a sold out audience at Portland's hip performance venue- Space Gallery, NYC transplant Juli was not afraid to push the boundaries as she explored the highs and lows of being a Mom. Juli has a long history of tackling topics that are slightly uncomfortable to talk about: money, dying, and being promiscuous. Now it's about being incontinent and how she got medical help for her vagina that wouldn't relax. A skilled comedian, actress and dancer Juli took the stage and took the audience on a tour of her life. She recounted her kids saying "mommy, mommy, mommy, ma, ma, ma, whispered mom, mommy with screams. She chops vegetables for dinner, but it never ends and she chops and chops until she is trying to smile but moans and has to lay down on the floor after trying to keep it all together while her body contorts in agony. It's a person barely holding on. She sings with dolls and then outrageously has breast pumps attached to her chest while dancing and singing like a Karaoke Night queen. Juli interacted with the audience by wiping a nose, tying a shoe, giving a kiss, and fixing a wrinkled shirt. She's every ones mother.

The spoken dialogue throughout is funny and poignant. Juli blends the absurd into the tragic. Juli describes the medical condition she was diagnosed with and demonstrates her Kegel exercises to regain her bladder control. She does funny rhythmic counting while squeezing. Next, a garden of vibrators appear as Juli grabs one (while another vibrator is passed amongst the audience for us to inspect) and reads the written instructions of how to use the vibrator to relax. She's wearing a pretty dress with a full puffy skirt so although she's demonstrating we can't actually see the vibrator. Always the dutiful mother she is next trimming the vibrators in the garden of their pubic hedge hairs to keep everything tidy. Outrageous fun and nothing seems taboo.

The set design by Rachel Romanski and Allison Bonon featured a dollhouse, a biofeedback machine and a collage of household items. Juli kept changing aprons, which represented both a covering and a highlighting of her pelvic area. The aprons designed by Carol Farrell were fanciful, blinking, and exotic. Sara Juli had the audience laughing out loud and thoroughly mesmerized as she lay open her dark secrets.

Space Gallery, Portland Maine, October 23-24, 2015

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