These days, Oguma is one of six actresses focusing on the struggles of adolescent women across the globe in Ensler's "Emotional Creature," based on her 2010 book, "I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World."
What to call the show, which was well-received by critics, isn't easy. There are monologues and songs, text messages and dancing. "I've been calling it 'a theatrical girl's event,'" says Ensler. "It's of the language of girls. That has created its own theatrical entity."
There's the tale of a young Chinese woman working in a Barbie factory, the story of a Bulgarian teen forced into prostitution and the lament of a Congolese girl forced into sexual slavery. And then there's a song about celebrating short skirts.
"I've always had an aversion to the three-act structure. Life isn't like that, you know," Ensler says. "You have one act and you repeat it again. Then you have a second act and a third act and then you go back to the first act."
How Ensler manages to channel the tumultuous feelings facing girls across the world is something of a mystery. While she travels extensively and speaks to everyone, she stresses that her monologues are fictional but based on reality, sidestepping the mess that monologist Mike Daisey faced when he admitted to making up conversations.
"There's nothing I'm doing that's pretending to be something other than fiction," she says. "I know there are girls who work in Barbie factories. I did the research. I'm not making up reality. That girl, did I meet her? No. Do I know what goes on in her head? No."
So how did it happen? "One day, she just started to talk to me," says Ensler. "I think when I feel someone deeply, deeply, deeply then I understand how they talk. When I go far enough into someone, then I get it."
Sade Namei, an Iranian-born actress who delivers a touching monologue about undergoing a forced nose job, says Ensler's words ring true. "It's me," she says. "Eve has allowed me to just be myself and give my humor to the monologue."
Spending time with Ensler has changed her actresses. Oguma says just being around the playwright makes them want to know more about the world. If they began as actresses, they are now theater activists.
"That's what happens when you do one of her plays," Oguma says.
And some of Ensler's confidence and empowerment has also affected Namei. "I used to not wear short skirts. Not because I'm religious or anything but because I was insecure about my legs," says the actress. "And then for some reason, I think subconsciously, this process has changed me."
One day she pulled out a daring miniskirt and wore it.
She immediately told Ensler.
"She was really happy," Namei says.
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