Climactic ‘Monologues’ Shine Once Again
‘Vagina Monologues’ Raises Money to End Violence Against Women By Ann Cowan
The Vagina Monologues
February 19, 20, 21, 8 p.m.
Written by Eve Ensler
Directed by Usman Akeju ’05, Betsy Eames ’06, Richa Maheshwari ’05, Alessandra Sabelli ’03
Vagina Monologues”: a light-hearted celebration and exploration of female sexuality -- its actualities, uncertainties, joys, vulnerabilities, and pains. Using the stories of some 200 women from around the world, the series of monologues creates a biography of women’s sexual development, awareness, pleasures, and some of the dangers it confronts. The initial shock of hearing explicit talk soon wears off as we become enveloped by a sense of recognition of what we always knew. The drama becomes both hilarious and deeply moving.
But of course, I must say this is how it was for me, a female. I’m sure males in the audience learn a great deal too: about how women feel, react, may be moved, and harmed. It’s hard for me to say how they see this play. Perhaps it is more shocking or revelatory than it is for women. An opportunity for male response at the end would be necessary and possibly interesting. In any case, the “Vagina Monologues” is certainly informative and motivating for those of either gender.
The 34 actresses in this play, which sold 1,050 tickets over the course of three nights, put themselves into the roles of the authors to varying degrees. Some seemed to fully identify and express both their own and their character’s emotions fully and convincingly; others used some expression to convey only the writer’s feelings. Some, reading lines with modest expression, were less convincing, though still informative. On the whole, the performance seemed to build gradually to a crescendo of emotive expression, especially to the climax at the end when the myriad of moan-types were demonstrated by several performers.
The play, made up of some 32 segments, begins with an “Introduction to the Vagina Monologues,” moving on to talk about “Hair,” and then continues with a narration of an older woman’s dreams of “The Flood” that took place “down there.” Then there’s “The Vagina Workshop” and its perils and pleasures and a great dramatic performance of “My Angry Vagina,” by Heather Fry.
In the second half, the fascinating segment “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could” was performed by Rydia Vielehr ’04, followed by an outrageous performance of “Reclaiming Cunt” by Ashley Robinson ’05. This all led to a climax with “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” generously performed by Adriana Rodriguez ’04. The costumes throughout the monologues were variations of red and black, consistent with the Valentine theme and its darker side.
“The Vagina Monologues” is a low cost production, designed to be performed by volunteers around the world. It aims to end the silence about the central facts of women’s lives and thus protect them from some of the violence done to them. It tries to do this by increasing their confidence and by raising money to open or reopen clinics, schools, shelters and similar efforts.
This production of the monologues is an amazing show of force for MIT. It has been performed at MIT for three years and this year earned over $11,000. All this goes to charities which work to end violence against women, from rape and domestic violence to genital mutilation and sexual slavery.
Eve Ensler’s play has inspired a new global grassroots movement, supported by students, to fight violence against women by licensing over 2,000 volunteer-staffed performances of her play at colleges and around the world. It has earned some $20 million in six years. When it was incorporated three years ago, it was hailed by “Newsweek” and other major magazines as one of the best charities.
People interested in these causes can become “Vagina Warriors” and watch for upcoming events and activities via MIT’s V-day site (http://V-day.mit.edu) or the national V-day site (http://www.vday.org/splash2004).