Event takes places Thursday, March 31 – Saturday, April 2
by Brianna Rae
Originally started in the Bay Area in 2003 by an organization called the South Asian Sisters, Yoni Ki Baat (‘Talk of the Vagina,’ roughly translated from Hindi) started on the UW-Madison campus a couple of years ago by Madison’s own South Asian Sisters collective.
Inspired by Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” Yoni Ki Baat is a nationwide theater ensemble that creates a safe space for women of color to discuss topics that are traditionally understood as taboo and kept hush-hush in many cultures and communities. It both celebrates and highlights the complexities of women’s identities, particularly in regards to gender, race, sexuality, class, religion, and immigration.
“It’s a safe space for people, specifically women of color, to talk about any issue or experience they’ve had,” said Teja Vemuganti, one of the productions directors. “I love Yoni Ki Baat because it’s been really empowering for me. It’s been a space where I could just talk about how the different aspects of my identity impact my life,” she continued.
Almost all of the pieces are written by the performers, who come from all age ranges and walks of life. These deeply personal monologues aim to end the silencing of diasporic women of color, celebrating ‘herstories’ (as opposed to histories) and highlighting the need for women’s improved mental, emotional, and physical health.
This year, twelve people are performing, one of the biggest turnouts in recent years. Though it’s comprised of mostly monologues, the performances include singing, spoken word, dance, and poetry.
The event is free and open to the public.
‘South Asian Sisters-Madison is a diverse collective of South Asian women dedicated to empowering woman-identified individuals of South Asian heritage on the UW campus and greater Madison community. We resist all forms of oppression through art, dialogue, conscious alliances, and grassroots political action. We aim to achieve social change by confronting and deconstructing institutions and relationships that marginalize women.’