Merry menstrual clowning-influenced shows a reality of biology–Review by Richard Mays

Period, by Amy Atkins, Directed by Iris Henderson, For Ephemeral Theatre, Globe Theatre, Palmerston North, July 5-6. Reviewed by Richard Mays.

Pad up and face reality – no, nothing to do with World Cup Cricket. That only happens every four years.

This is about a deal that directly and indirectly affects most of the adult population every four weeks ad infinitum, period.

Home-grown Amy Atkins returned her “merry menstrual” clowning-influenced show to the city after winning outstanding female performer for period at last year’s inaugural Palmy Fringe.

Atkins also claimed best original solo script and production at the Regional Theatre Awards in February and earned a nomination for best emerging theatre company at this year’s NZ Fringe.

Dressed in a simple white shift, she introduces us to Karla, aged 11 or 12. It’s Karla’s birthday and in the centre of an otherwise empty stage there is, somewhat symbolically, a big red gift-wrapped box.

Excited and curious, she can’t wait for her “voice-over” mother to give permission to open it.

When the wrap is off, a somewhat perplexed Karla finds it contains the oddest things.

Is this some kind of dress-up box? Are these toys? Is that a Chupa Chup? What can all these seemingly random bits and pieces – oh, and chocolate – mean?

It’s evident Karla’s mum has made a few assumptions about her daughter’s state of awareness, offering no real explanation for the pads, tampons, cups and applicators inside the box.

What follows are a series of whimsical and humorous trial-and-error experiments as Karla gradually becomes acquainted with her “little friend”, its implications and the accessories for dealing with it.

Based on a premise that many young girls have little idea about the biological cycle about to impact on their lives, period provides a light-hearted instruction manual, complete with menstrual cup folding demonstrations.

These cups were handed out at the door and let’s just say for a ham-fisted male origami is way less complicated.

Totally believable as her young naive protagonist, Atkins’ 45-minute long, mainly mute performance is a delight.

She makes superb use of physicality and facial expressiveness to convey convincing child-like character.

Incorporating puppets made from pads and tampons, other symbolic and explicit props, and pre-recorded voice-overs, period is a unique, inclusive, non-threatening and fun demystification of what is, after all, basic human biology. 

This review was originally published on the 7th July 2019 by Stuff.

NOT A DIVA? NOT A PROBLEM! Diva Cup Review

Written by Amy Atkins

Diva n. a celebrated female opera singer.

I’m no opera singer but the Model 2 Diva Cup is worth making your flatmates ears bleed. Diva Cup and Crombie and Price sent ‘period.’ some of their multi-award winning menstrual cups including one for me to try! It’s been two months and I’m ready with a review.

Disclaimer: Everyone’s body is a little different! So, before we flow on down to the pros and cons of a Diva Cup Model 2 here’s a wee reminder: your experience will be different to my experience. Period. This is where I am coming from: I have been using menstrual cups for two years, I am in my 20s, I tend to prefer cups that are the size most often suggested for people who are 30 or older and have given birth vaginally (even though I am not over 30 and have DEFINITELY not given birth vaginally… I just prefer the larger cups, they feel more secure), I have a self-diagnosed high cervix, and I have a regular period that is very heavy on the first two days.

Right! Now we’ve cleared that up–here are my PMS’s…
Sorry, I mean PMI’s for the Model 2 Diva Cup!

Four Diva Cups laid out on a grey woollen blanket. Two are in their purple and pink packaging while two are sitting on the purple floral pouches.

PLUSES

  1. This silicone beauty came in well-designed packaging perfect for that shop counter. Inside were the instructions in multiple languages, a colourful pouch, and one bell-shaped eco busting menstrual cup.
  2. Diva Cup offers three sizes! The chart at the end of this paragraph is courtesy of Put A Cup In It.
  3. The Model 2 takes well to all my go-to cup folds: ‘C’, punchdown, double seven, origami, labia… etc, which makes it easy to insert while in the shower or on the toilet!
  4. It makes a satisfying ‘POP’ as it opens inside the vaginal canal! So reassuring!
  5. The bell-shape and tapered design of the cup means there was ZERO pressure on my bladder and no blocking of my rectum. Yes, some cups can push into the bladder and rectum walls… which makes for very confusing toileting**
  6. Great suction holds fluid in even if it slips a bit (see ‘Interesting 2.’ for more details!!!)
  7. Super easy to remove because of great tactile base!
  8. It was simple to wash and sterilise in my microwave after I used it. Yes, I boil my washed cup in a plastic measuring flask inside the microwave with a bit of white vinegar. No, the microwave is not contaminated now. Yes, my flatmates know I boil my cup in the microwave. If you can defrost your salmonella chicken in my perfectly designed ceramic noodle bowl, I can cook my pussy plug (thank you PACII for this glorious phrase) in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. Mmm, steamy vinegar facial.
  9. It’s made in Canada! Even though this is a Canadian brand all sizes of the Diva Cup are available in New Zealand thanks to Crombie and Price and can be bought off this website: https://www.menstrualcup.nz/product/divacup/
Diva Cup Length Diameter Capacity (To Holes) Capcity (Listed) Stem Firmness
Model 0 57mm 40mm N/A 17 ml 10mm 3
Model 1 57mm 43mm 24 ml 30 ml 10mm 3
Model 2 57mm 46mm 28 ml 30 ml 10mm 3

MINUSES

  1. The packing–yes, I did say it was gorgeous but there is a small con–it has a plastic peep window, plastic seal, and the package is made of shiny cardboard, which I could not tell if it was plastic lined, waxed lined, or other so it had to go in the bin! If you are trying to be plastic free, or are an eco-warrior buying this product new might not be for you!
  2. The bell-shape and tapered design, while is great for peeing and pooping… it tended to fall to one side inside my vagina. This meant the cup was sitting diagonally for some time resulting in leakage. This was not blood leaking from the cup itself but blood tip toeing down my vaginal canal and past the cup’s silicone fortress! I consulted Diva Cup’s ‘Tips For Success’ page but no matter how I adjusted it or re-inserted it I couldn’t get a leak-free use. I resorted to wearing reusable cloth liners, which is easy but makes for more washing
  3. Overflow… I usually use a 40ml capacity cup but this one has a 30ml capacity. Those few mls made all the difference. I was not watching the time and I overflowed my cup a fair few times over the two months I trailed it. If you have a heavy period, this cup and any 30ml cup may only last you 3 hours. By day four/five of my cycle I could have the cup in for 12 hours easy. But, during day one or two I either need a higher capacity cup, a reusable pad in, or to empty the Diva Cup cup every 2-3 hours.
A single Diva Cup held in front of bright green foliage.

INTERESTING!?!

  1. The stem is hollow at the bottom and it got blood in it… it washed out okay!
  2. WHAT?! Am I a witch!? My vaginal muscles managed to flip the ENTIRE cup HORIZONTAL inside my vagina–but wait it gets better–with all the blood still inside!!! No leakage… from the cup, anyway. Blood was slipping past the cup at this stage. Diva Cup, congratulations on creating a cup with phenomenal suction capabilities!

For more information about Diva Cup visit: https://divacup.com/

For help using your Diva Cup check out ‘Tips for Success’ here: https://divacup.com/how-it-works/tips-for-success/

*Please refer to my MyCup Review for details of why I do not use small menstrual cups… bloody, bloody disaster!

**Put A Cup In It have a great video about ‘Pooping While Wearing a Menstrual Cup

This review was made possible by the in-kind support of Diva Cup and Crombie and Price. The Diva Cup Model 2 I tested to make this review was gifted to me.

period. Review by Lizzie Murray

I wish I had seen this show when I was 11. I got my first period in a McDonald’s bathroom the night before my first day at my new school. I dreaded the next day. My pad felt like a big nappy and I thought everyone could tell I was wearing one. Amy Atkins and Ephemeral Theatre presents period., a charming one woman show that magically captures the struggles of dealing with your first period. It’s funny, interactive and educational. period.’s mission is to empower young girls and stop period shaming. And I loved it!

It’s Karla’s birthday and she a has a surprise present: her period. She also has a huge wrapped present that temptingly sits centre stage. The authoritative “Mum” voice over eventually allows the eager Klara to open her present. “The Hall of the Mountain King” plays as Klara gleefully tears the red wrapping paper and discovers a huge box full of feminine hygiene paraphernalia. Klara excitedly showers the black box theatre in tampons, pad, cups, and undies. She investigates her new toys with hilarious enthusiasm. Tampons are mistaken for lollipops and pads are used as futuristic armour. I loved seeing these items used in such an absurd but positive way. It felt like a big “fuck you” to the high schools boys that would hysterically throw unused tampons across the room as if they were bombs.

Atkins conveys curious Klara with a sweet naivety. She is super fun to watch and skillfully controls the audience interaction parts. Atkins is also an amazing puppet master. Incredibly constructed vulvas march across the stage. Other smaller puppets were intricately crafted out of feminine hygiene projects. I wish I could watch the show with its target/younger audience and hear their laughter at these outrageous puppets.

An ensemble of new voices overs share their personal period experiences while Atkins dances with the tampon puppets. They highlight how everyone feels uncomfortable with this change and inspired me to share my story here.

period. isn’t interested in the science behind menstruation, but rather educates the audience on how to deal with this big change. I learnt a new way to fold my menstrual cup which I can’t wait to try next month. This show would also be a great space to highlight that not every woman bleeds, that that is a completely normal thing too.

The show was incredibly successful in its mission to educate on and celebrate “that time of the month.” I did wonder if there would be more development of the off-stage brother character. Would Klara share her new secret with him and boast about her change?

Girls have been menstruwaiting too long for a show like this. I was very excited to hear that period. Is going to be toured around schools. If you are involved with a school that needs this kind of creative representation contact Ephemeral Theatre here

This review was published on Art Murmurs

EVERYONE DESERVES TO SEE THIS – PERIOD.

Amy Atkins greets everyone at the door of the Random Stage at BATS and hands them a menstrual cup. We are asked to return these at the end of the show (damn!). Once we’re in our seats, the sweet childhood exploration of menstruation begins!

period. follows the story of Karla, a young (her age is never quite pinpointed) resourceful girl who gets a big red box with a golden present bow for her birthday. Inside are pads, reusable pads, tampons, tampons with applicators, and menstruation cups. It’s clear she doesn’t know what they are, making armour from the pads (women are powerful, yes!), and thinking an applicator is a lollipop, but she’s having fun figuring it out.

Rather than letting her mother bore her with scientific research, we are invited to join her on the journey. Sometimes quite literally. Atkins, as well has having open expressions, has a warm and kind demeanour which allows the audience to feel comfortable watching her trying to insert a tampon, helping her play a game on stage, and even joining her in learning how to fold the menstruation cup we were given at the top of the show.

While Karla is fun and sweet, the show is broken up with acted verbatim pieces of women’s experiences with menstruation, as well as how mothers teach their own children. While we listen to this, Atkins brings out various puppets: plush satin vulva puppets, tampon puppets on strings, and a small child-sized doll made of pads. These small pieces of performative art help the audience reflect on how we talk and think about menstruation.

Atkins is a giving and entertaining solo performer. Karla hardly speaks, so a lot of our understanding of the story comes through her face, making me instantly fall in love with her character and sympathise with her journey.

I am so pleased to hear period. is going into schools. It deserves it. It’s full of beautiful moments between the audience and Karla, very much present with her by being bathed in the same light, as well as some more reflective poignant scenes.

Everyone, of any age and gender, deserves to see this show – period.

This review was published on Theatreview.

SERIOUSLY SOFT! – Hannahpad REVIEW

‘period.’ has its second season at BATS Theatre the 19th-23rd of March as part of the New Zealand Fringe 2019. In preparation Amy, founder of Ephemeral Theatre and writer of ‘period.’, is trying out some of the products featured in the performance! Hannahpad sent us three pads for ‘period.’ and three pads for Amy to try*. Check out her experience!

Auckland Art Gallery was exhibiting “Collective Women: Feminist Art Archives from the 1970s to the 1990s”. I was bleeding in the Auckland Art Gallery’s bright black bathroom preparing to try Hannahpads for the first time. The second wave feminists would be proud—historians you can correct me if I am wrong.

I clipped a medium Hannahpad to my black high-waisted briefs and felt for the first time how seriously soft reusable organic cotton pads can be! I checked in the mirror whether or not the slight bulk was visible—it was not. When I was younger, I feared people would see the bulge of the single-use pads and mock me for wearing a nappy but I’ve realised clothing is a marvellous thing. There is nothing a snug pair of underwear, a pair of jeans, or a pair of baggy pants can’t conceal—if you want them too. The medium Hannahpad felt thicker than the ultra-thin pads I used to wear but they were not visible and to be honest, so extremely comfortable, for pads, that I couldn’t care less.

I wore the Medium organic cotton pad from 12:30noon – 8:00pm that night. I was staying at a family friends house but fortunately, the room had a wee en-suite. I found a large plastic laundry bowl and soaked my pads in there, in the en-suite, for the five days we were away from home.

I only used the large cloth pad for sleeping. It offered great coverage—front to back, perfect for restless sleepers. Now… I have the odd ability to overflow my menstrual cups during the night and always sleep on a folded towel and with a single use liner in (yes, yes, sorry I’ll go buy more cloth pad liners). And, when I used single-use night pads I frequently woke with leaks out the side of my underwear, through the towel, and onto the sheet forcing me to sigh and make that wet-feeling-period-walk to the bathroom.

I wasn’t going to risk it! Especially since I was staying at someone else’s house. I slept on a towel and hoped for the best. Well! I was blown away. No blotches on the towel. Not a single spec! Yes, there was some leakage from the absorbent liner through to the seams of the cloth pad but it hadn’t gone elsewhere. From 10:00pm to 7:30am the following morning the Hannahpad kept my sheets clean!

For Day two I was out of medium pads to trial—they take approx. 24 hours to dry in direct sunlight—so I used a menstrual cup with a small Hannahpad as back up. It came in handy… needless to say, the menstrual cup trial did not go well… the review for that will be coming out soon.

Over December 2018 and January 2019, I am thrilled to say I enjoyed trialling Hannahpads for the first time, actually, it was my first time trying any reusable cloth pad! The pads never ‘spun-around’ like I have heard people experience, they are still a brilliant beige, and despite the occasional wet sensation that comes from wearing pads of any sort I really liked managing my period with these organic cotton cloth pads.

Instructions for a Freshie:

  1. Wash your new Hannahpads on a hot machine wash, medium spin, with Hannahpad recommended soap—something organic and non-whitening.
  2. Dry them in direct sunlight until completely dry, approx. 16 hours on a mild day.
  3. Store your pads in a cloth bag or in a drawer until you need them.
  4. Enjoy the soft comfort of your Hannahpad while menstruating for 4-8 hours—or until the blood stops neatly soaking away dry.
  5. Either rinse and soak immediately if at home or fold up and store in a wet bag.
  6. Rinse as soon as possible in cold water. Let running water absorb through the whole pad, fold the ends together so the bloody side is facing down towards the sink and squeeze. Repeat until the water runs clear or a dark red/brown.
    NOTE: Refrain from scrubbing the organic cotton or rubbing the organic cotton against itself as this will cause pilling.
  7. Soap up with a Hannahpad recommended soap bar and then rinse (Step 6).
  8. Fill a large laundry bowl with cold water and lay the pad in the water print side up a.k.a facedown.
  9. Soak for 24 hours changing the water every 12 hours or when the water goes murky.
  10. Rinse in cold water and then machine wash on cold, medium spin, with a Hannahpad recommended laundry powder or soap shavings.
    NOTE: You could happily let the soaked and rinsed pads sit for a day until you have a stockpile of cloth pads ready to machine wash.
  11. Dry with the absorbent cloth side of the pad in direct sunlight for 24 hours for maximum sun-whitening potential!

Be patient! Your beautiful Hannahpads will keep their organic cotton white colour if you are patient.

*This is not a paid review.