The Vagina Monologues
There’s Nothing Like This in Tax Law
Coordinated by Ruth Perlmutter ’04.
Directed by Adam Glassman ’02, Usman Akeju ’04, Marcus Lopez ’05, and Whitney Boesel ’03.
Produced by Richa Maheshwari ’04, Ruth Perlmutter ’04, and Shereen Katrak ’04.
Controversy draws a crowd. All week in Lobby 10, the voices of volunteers working with The Vagina Monologues rang out,“Vaginas! Get your vaginas here!” They were selling chocolate vaginas, of course, but the shock tactic worked. Not only did the booth attract the crowd of interested students, but the production itself in Little Kresge was completely sold out.
The excessive attention is quite a feat considering that The Vagina Monologues is not the typical popular play: it has no music or plot, and stark staging. Instead, it relies on compelling shorts that blend together into a tapestry of experiences. The premise comes from interviews that were conducted with women from all over the globe about their individual experiences. As the “Introduction” monologue explains, “Women secretly love to talk about their vaginas.” A few of the survey questions and sample answers were included in the play itself: If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear? If your vagina could talk, what would it say? What does your vagina smell like?
Other segments were dedicated to “Vagina Facts.” Michelle A. Tiu’s ’05 “Outrageous Vagina Fact” included states in which it is currently illegal to sell a vibrator. She remarked that in each one selling guns is “perfectly legal” and that “we have yet to hear of a mass murder committed with a vibrator.”
However, the majority of the play was dedicated to stories from individual women. Many were tinged with humor or sadness; there was no typical experience. In fact, each character’s monologue was uniquely individual in a way that merely talking about another body part couldn’t be.
For instance, in “The Flood,” graduate student Kathryn E. Miller’s character is a 72-year-old woman who reveals her Burt Reynolds fantasies and expresses her reluctance to talk about her “down there” by protesting that it is like the cellar of a house. You know you have one, she says, but you do not go “down there.”
In “My Angry Vagina,” Erin R. Rhode ’04 listed the numerous ways her vagina was fed up with its current state of being. With unequalled sass and spunk, Rhode laid out her character’s reasons for having an angry vagina. As conceptualized by the character, a more vagina-friendly world would eliminate tampons, thong underwear, and the iciness of visits to the gynecologist.
Melissa S. Cain ’04 depicted an Afghan woman who had been reduced to begging when the Taliban executed her husband in “Under the Burqa.” “Imagine you could no longer distinguish between life and death,” Cain said while in character, “so you stop trying to kill yourself because it would be redundant.” While the material was weighty, Cain handled the role deftly, giving it subtly and texture.
In a monologue that explored the mass rape of Bosnian women as an instrument of war, Shereen S. Katrak ’04 contrasted her perception of her vagina before and after being gang-raped and tortured for days. Katrak’s expressions during her monologue mirrored and gave more meaning to her words.
The penultimate monologue, the one of Liana A. Metzger ’03, had many in the audience laughing to the verge of hyperventilation. In “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” Metzger portrayed a sex worker who worked exclusively with women. Although the character had started out as a lawyer, “There was nothing like this in tax law ... there was no moaning.” Explaining further that she helped women to find their unique moan, Metzger proceeded to explain some of the more common types, including the WASP moan, the semi-religious moan, and the surprise triple orgasm moan. While the names may cause some chuckles, Metzger’s impressions were outrageous.
Other monologues included one from a six-year-old (Alice H. Wang WC ’03), a lesbian homeless woman (Huanne T. Thomas ’02), and the author, Eve Ensler (Richa Maheshwari ’04). Because the play is a collection of individuals and their stories, there is no easy way to describe the total production in terms of something other than the individual roles. Each of the actresses brought something completely different to her character, and the effect was nothing less than synergy.