For perhaps the first time in its 175-year history, the bells of the Old Whaling Church chimed in the bell tower Sunday night while a woman standing on the altar spoke the words: “You have to love hair in order to love the vagina.”

Her statement, like many other yonic musings over the course of the evening, drew thunderous applause.

The Vagina Monologues, written more than 20 years ago by Eve Ensler, explores that body part — and others near it — through a series of meditations from the perspectives of all sorts of women, young and old.

Island Theatre Workshop held a performance of the show as part of VDay, a global movement to raise awareness about violence against women. The event raised more than $5,000 to benefit the Island nonprofits Connect to End Violence and Friends of Family Planning of Martha’s Vineyard, and Eve Ensler’s foundation. Islander Scarlet Snow Johnson headed off the evening with a passionate, original monologue.

The cast of nine women wore all black save for accents of red: a necklace, a scarf, a pair of glasses. They were brazen punctuation against the white, cavernous architecture of the old church. So too is the play itself, but against a different kind of structure, one exposed most recently with the advent of #MeToo.

Binnie Ravitch performed a monologue called The Flood. — Alison L. Mead

The monologues do take on grave issues: sexual assault, rape and body shame, but many of them are just plain funny.

When the bells first rang, Jennifer Knight was in the midst of her performance of the monologue Hair, in which a woman tells the story of her adulterous ex-husband who insisted she shave her vagina.

“I realized then that hair is there for a reason,” she says. “The leaf around the flower, the lawn around the house.”

Ms. Knight is the former president of Friends of Family Planning and current vice president of Island Theatre Workshop. She is also a life coach for mothers. Later in the play, she delivered an electrifying performance of the profane, fed-up monologue, My Angry Vagina.

“Primarily what I got out of it, and I think I can speak for the other women too, is this sense of female, feminine connection,” Ms. Knight said after the show.

That connection was felt by all. The audience was rapt for the entire two-hour performance, often adding murmurs of assent after a resonant line. Parking was scarce near the church, and the pews were full. The performance drew a lengthy standing ovation.

Binnie Ravitch, who spent decades acting in New York city, was a crowd favorite with her performance of The Flood. Ms. Ravitch told the story with levity and energy, inviting her audience to empathize without forcing them to do so.

Another highlight was Joyce Maxner’s performance of The Vagina Workshop. Ms. Maxner, a music teacher, brought the elegance of a conductor to her performance as she told a story of genital exploration which climaxes in, well, a climax.

The Old Whaling Church was filled, and a standing ovation reverberated. — Alison L. Mead

Susan Wysocki, a real-life vagina expert, performed the monologue Vagina Happy Fact, informing the audience that the clitoris has twice as many nerve endings as the penis. Ms. Wysocki is a woman’s health nurse practitioner and member of the board of Friends of Family Planning. This was her first time acting, and it was a pleasure to watch her take on this brave, irreverent play.

The play has received criticism, with some arguing that it is counterproductive to approach the idea of womanhood through the vagina. Since the 1990s, the work has evolved in response to those critiques. It now includes a transgender woman’s narrative, with the sobering monologue They Beat the Girl out of My Boy — Or So They Tried, which was performed Sunday night by the whole ensemble.

The church seemed an appropriate venue for the play. In the setting, the monologues were almost sermons and the words almost sacred.

The last monologue, I Was There in the Room, described the birth of a child, graphically and gracefully.

The words rang out: “We forget the vagina. What else would explain our lack of awe, our lack of reverence?”

Ms. Ravitch led the way, and as each woman joined her, they put a hand on the shoulder of the woman in front of them, forming a giant V at center stage.