A simple word that can cause men to cringe and women to blush.
A word so powerful that it has become a taboo even though half the world’s population has one.
Eve Ensler’s episodic play, “The Vagina Monologues,” brings power back to women by embracing the word as more than just anatomy, but as a woman’s entire feminine experience.
Premiering in 1996, “The Vagina Monologues” is more than just a play, it is now a movement. Constructed of multiple monologues, the play highlights aspects of the female self that include menstruation, sex, love, rape, masturbation, birth, genital mutilation, domestic abuse and orgasm. Although most of the monologues confront heavy subject matter that challenge taboos, there are moments of humor.
Susan O’Shaughnessy, independent director of this year’s SWC production, said the monologues empower women.
“‘The Vagina Monologues’ is about healing, you never know what another woman’s story is,” she said. “The biggest goal of the production was to begin to change the subculture of women being subjected to different types of abuse.”
What makes “The Vagina Monologues” special to the Southwestern College campus is that it is part of a large movement called V-Day, also started by Eve Ensler. Spanning from February 14 to April 30, presentations of the play are given to fund raise in support of domestic abuse survivors. SWC was contracted by the Chula Vista non-profit theatre On-Stage Productions to fund raise using “The Vagina Monologues.”
Proceeds are given to local community crisis centers serving women, with a small portion benefiting the global efforts of V-Day.
Every performance has multiple actresses reading the different monologues so that audience members will be able to easily identify with the stories. With no flash or glamour, the play is meant to be raw and poignant. Focus is to remain on the subject each monologue brings forward rather than how well decorated a stage can be. Women of all ages, ethnicities and sizes as well as transgender women are encouraged to participate in the play in order to create a sense of community and trust. Creating an intimate setting, all of the actresses will be seated on stage for the duration of the performance while they take turns reading their monologues. For this particular presentation the women will be reading from their scripts on stage rather than memorizing lines. Rehearsals and preparation are kept to a minimum to keep the entire format simple.
“We will only have two rehearsals so that when the person reads another person’s story it is fresh,” said O’Shaughnessy.
Instead of avoiding the word vagina like the plague, SWC students and the community are invited to watch “The Vagina Monologues” on April 25 and 26 in Mayan Hall. There may be moments where men cringe and women blush, but everyone has the chance to learn and think.