Shakespeare may not have written it, but “The Vagina Monologues” is a revolutionary play that has maintained its cultural relevance since it was originally performed in 1996. Dedicated to women and their stories, the play still inspires audiences today and will be coming to Seattle University yet again.
Primarily run through the Society of Feminists club, this year’s new student directors Susanna Waldrop and Brittany Remillard are leading the biggest cast yet, with about 20 women who will be acting.
“[The Vagina Monologues] just takes a big world of what the female body is and its experiences and puts it into one production,” Remillard said. “It’s been important for me personally, but also very important for me to give this to other people.”
The production in question is run through VDay, a global activist movement committed to ending violence against women and girls. “Vagina Monologues” is but one of the many benefit productions that VDay puts on worldwide to increase awareness, raise money for anti-violence organizations and cultivate a spirit of strength.
Written by playwright and activist Eve Ensler in 1994, the play features performances that address the topic of women’s sexuality and the social stigma surrounding serious issues such as rape and abuse. They are intended to create a new conversations about women with women.
Both Waldrop and Remillard have participated in the play since their freshman year and they stepped up to claim their leadership positions after former directors Celina Enseñat and Akaila Ballard graduated.
“I think after the first time [performing in The Vagina Monologues], I became much more comfortable and open,” Waldrop said. “I think it’s a good way to let people know that it’s okay to talk about this stuff and it’s normal and it’s good.”
While this year’s modified script is similar to last year’s, there will be some notable differences. Due to the large cast in this year’s production, one monologue, originally written for a single actor, has been transformed into a two-person monologue. According to Waldrop, there may also be some Spanish incorporated into this year’s play, a change that could add a little diversity.
The monologues go through a variety of experiences involving the vagina and women, and incite a broad range of emotional responses. From lighthearted topics to heavier ones, the performances will touch upon circumstances like having to deal with visits to the gynecologist and genital mutilation.
“I remember going last year and being taken on a complete roller coaster,” said sophomore Donna Matthews. “One minute I’d be laughing my head off and the next my heart strings would be pulled in a thousand different directions.”
While each story is distinct and not all possible stories are covered within the play, one thing is clear about the overall performance; the women who perform these powerful monologues are playing an important part in destroying the shame and aversion associated with speaking of these topics. There need not be any controversy in this conversation.
“I think [our goal] has stayed pretty consistent,” Waldrop said. “The general message is, I think, to make it normal for women to talk about these experiences that are often silenced in many ways.”
What’s wonderfully brilliant about Ensler’s play is that it is drawn from real life encounters and women’s stories. The production is based off of interviews Ensler conducted with 200 women of different ethnicities, ages and sexual orientations. Additionally, she began the VDay movement.
“I’ve never really cared about what people did or didn’t want to hear when it came to talking about me and the female body,” said junior Jessie Davis. “‘The Vagina Monologues,’ in my opinion, does a fabulous job at taking away that fear in speaking your truth.”
All proceeds will be going to the National VDay Campaign as well as the Northwest Network, an organization dedicated to ending abuse in the LGBTQ community.
“I think so many people have an opinion about sexual violence or sexual pleasure or desire but they never want to hear it from someone who has lived it,” said junior Claire Lee. “This production is just one of the many doors we need to make this campus more aware.”
In reclaiming stories and empowering each other, this production by women and for women is set to be highly anticipated this weekend. That’s vaginas for you.
“The Vagina Monologues” will be performed this Sat., March 12 and Sun., March 13 at 7 p.m. in Pigott Auditorium. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to each show and students tickets are available for purchase at the Campus Assistance Center for $5 or $8 at the door.
Vikki may be reached at [email protected]