Cover image for Necessary targets : a story of women and war
Necessary targets : a story of women and war
Ensler, Eve, 1953-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Villard, [2001]

Physical Description:
xv, 122 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3555.N75 N43 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3555.N75 N43 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In her first new work since The Vagina Monologues, her Obie Award-winning smash hit, Eve Ensler tells the story of two American women, a Park Avenue psychiatrist and a human rights worker, who go to Bosnia to help women confront their memories of war and emerge deeply changed themselves. Necessary Targets is a groundbreaking play about women and war--about the violence of dark memories and the enduring resilience of the human spirit.

Melissa, an ambitious young writer, and J.S., a successful but unsatisfied middle-aged psychiatrist, have nothing in common beyond the methods they have been taught to distance themselves from other people. As J.S. begins to feel compassion for the women whose tragedies she has been sent to expose, she turns on Melissa, who finds safety in control. In an unexpected moment of revelation, J.S. and the women she is supposedly treating find a common ground, a place to be taught and a place to learn.

Necessary Targets has been staged in New York by Meryl Streep, Anjelica Huston, and Calista Flockhart, and performed in Sarajevo with Glenn Close and Marisa Tomei.

Author Notes

Eve Ensler received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Playwriting in 1999

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ensler's sober new play may seem like an unexpected astringent after her celebrity-studded performance piece and book, The Vagina Monologues, an alternately piercing and raucous series of vignettes that dramatize women's conflicts over body image and sexuality that continues to be performed around the country. Here, Ensler's major theme is the lingering effects of violence against women. Two American womenÄa well-heeled New York psychiatrist and her younger colleagueÄtravel to a refugee camp intending to help Bosnian women "tell their stories" after the brutal war in Yugoslavia. Inexperienced in the field, the doctor learns to stop patronizing and start listening, while her more brittle companion retreats into therapeutic jargon. "When we think of war, we think of it as something that happens to men in fields or jungles," says the award-winning playwright in her introduction. "But after the bombing, after the snipers, that's when the real war begins." Though deeply political, Ensler's work has no ideological axes to grind, nor does it linger sensationally on rape stories. Spare, self-reflexive and powerful, the play zeroes in on the real postwar conflict: the refugees' contempt for bland, professional talk therapyÄand their overwhelming need, at the same time, for help in absorbing the damages. Agent, Charlotte Sheedy. (Feb. 2) Forecast: Though Ensler's new subject matter is darker and less familiar to American women than that of The Vagina Monologues (which sold more than 60,000 copies), Ensler knows her audience and how to attract attention (she appeared on Oprah last fall). Her five-city tour and print campaign targeting college newspapers, in addition to the play's opening in New York in March 2001, will ensure that her devotees take notice. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Move over, Vagina Monologues. You may be a hit play, but Obie Award-winning playwright Ensler has another drama in store. This one opens on Broadway in the fall with the likes of Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, and Calista Flockhart and is set partly in New York and partly in Sarajevo. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



SCENE 1 Lights up on a posh living room. A coffee table with plates of food. j.s., a stunning, reserved woman near fifty, sits with melissa, a young, strong woman who sits awkwardly on the sofa, drinking water. melissa wipes up the excess water that her drink has left on the coffee table. j.s. moves a round wooden object toward her. MELISSA: Oh, it's a coaster. I thought it was an art object. I'm so sorry. J.S.: Not to worry. It's an old table. MELISSA: It's gorgeous. In such amazing shape. There's not one smudge on it. I could never keep a table like that. It takes so much time. J.S.: Well, I don't spend my days polishing the table. MELISSA: No, no. I'm sure you have someone who does that. (They both laugh nervously.) J.S.: You're younger than I expected. MELISSA: Well, I've been through a lot. J.S.(unconsciously therapeutic): Yes? MELISSA: (sensing she's being analyzed, suddenly): Oh, I didn't mean it like that. J.S.: Like what? MELISSA: Like that. Like childhood. Like poor me. I don't feel sorry for myself. J.S.: Why would I think that? MELISSA: Because you're a shrink. Because I'm sure you'll attribute all I do now to all that happened to me when I was little. J.S.: I don't know what happened to you when you were little, Melissa. MELISSA: Do you need to know? Is it important for you to know? I'd rather not be identified or determined by that part of my life. It was their life. This is my life. J.S.: And what makes this your life? MELISSA: That feels very much like a shrink question. J.S.: Oh, I'm sorry. (They sit awkwardly.) J.S.: I like your shoes. MELISSA: You do? J.S.: Yes, very much. MELISSA: Kenneth Cole. I love the zippers. J.S.: They're very . . . definitive. MELISSA: Well . . . yes. They're grounding. I need shoes that are grounding. J.S.: Yes. I imagine. MELISSA: Not 'cause I'm crazy or off-the-wall or anything. But these situations, these wars. One needs . . . grounding. J.S.: Yes. Your resume's impressive. You come highly recommended. MELISSA: Oh, I just made it up for you. I mean, typed it . . . up for you. All the facts are true. I usually work alone. I don't have to prove myself. So this is new. J.S.: It's really interesting. You're trained as a therapist and a writer. That's very unusual. MELISSA: Trauma counselor. J.S.: What? MELISSA: I'm trained as a trauma counselor. It's very specific training. I am not a therapist. I only work with seriously traumatized populations. Oh God, listen to me, "seriously traumatized populations . . ." J.S.: Doesn't it frighten you? MELISSA: Yes, definitely. But it scares me more not to see it, not to know what's going on. Why are you going to Bosnia? J.S.: I am going for the President's commission. I was asked, and it's a huge honor. To be honest, I was a bit surprised. I mean, Bosnia is not a place I know very much about. I read the news, but until about a week ago, the Balkans were not exactly next on my vacation map. MELISSA: Why does this commission want you to be there? J.S.: Well, they chose a range of professions for the team. I'm the "shrink" piece, as you say. At one time it was my field, trauma. MELISSA: Yes, eating disorders. I am familiar with your books. J.S.: Yes? MELISSA: You have never been to a war-torn country. J.S.: God, no. That's why I wanted you to be with me, Melissa. Your experience. MELISSA: War is not exactly the same as anorexia. J.S.: I am a psychiatrist. Twenty-six years. In private practice. I've been involved in a war of sorts, mental skirmishes and attacks. Trauma is trauma. MELISSA: In Haiti, the psychiatrists were fleeing like flies. J.S.: Haiti? MELISSA: Yes. J.S.: How long were you there? MELISSA: Eight months. J.S.: Weren't you afraid? MELISSA: No. Not in Haiti-in Rwanda, yes . . . J.S.: Rwanda. MELISSA: Yes. J.S.: I can't imagine. MELISSA: No. No one could imagine. J.S.: Are you sure you're ready to go to Bosnia, to do this again? MELISSA (clipped): It's my work. It's what I do. J.S.: You are very strong. So young and so strong. MELISSA: Is this commission the real deal? Or is it one of those U.N. situations-observe/witness, but do not go near? J.S.: They said we would be working directly with the women war refugees. It's very "hands-on." That's why I need you to be my assistant. MELISSA: Is that what you were told? J.S.: What? MELISSA: That I was an assistant-that I'd be your assistant. J.S.: Yes, you were to assist me. You are a war specialist and you were to assist me. MELISSA: I am currently writing a book-investigating the effect of war in the creation and development of trauma, focusing primarily on communities of women, on those specific atrocities that traumatize women. It's my first contract with a major publisher. It's actually your publisher. It is essential that I complete the book this year. I will need to interview these women. J.S.: That shouldn't be a problem. Excerpted from Necessary Targets: A Story of Women and War by Eve Ensler All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xi
Necessary Targetsp. 1
Acknowledgmentsp. 119