Warm and sweet. In different shades of pinks and reds. Ranging from wild curls to neatly trimmed. All shapes and sizes but nonetheless beautiful. Cast members of the Vagina Monologues courageously performed pieces celebrating sexuality and the feminine experience in Mayan Hall.
A disco anthem rumbled through the old auditorium and the beginning of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” roared. Meant to be empowering, the song came off as kitschy and stale. Standing alone on stage, a terrified looking Kelly-Noelle Henry looked around the audience as she tried to sing along to the song. Her nervousness was comparable to a person shakily performing karaoke for the first time. As the rest of the cast members joyfully danced towards the stage, Henry faltered and appeared to forget some of the lyrics. Although it was meant to be a fun and empowering way to begin the Vagina Monologues, both the singer and audience was relieved when the song finally finished.
During one monologue entitled “The Flood,” Lillian Leopold told the story of a woman’s shame tied to her sexuality from a young age. Her facial expressions and diction came off as slightly cheesy yet still felt sincere. She felt familiar and appeared comfortable speaking to the audience while describing vivid embarrassing memories from the author. She looked conservative on stage and appropriately conveyed the author’s hesitation to let strangers know a secret she had shamefully hidden most of her life. Her performance felt believable and she connected with the audience.
Walking to the center of the stage, Silvia Lugo was radiant. With her carefully styled hair and bright red dress, she looked sophisticated and enthusiastically began her piece entitled “The Vagina Workshop.” Enthusiasm quickly changed and her voice became smooth and calming as she spoke. She muddled her words several times but quickly recovered. Narrating slowly, it was apparent she was trying to force an intimate atmosphere for the audience, but it made the piece feel long.
As soon as Cynthia Ochoa rose from her seat and jokingly gave the previous performer a jealous glare, the audience was completely captivated. Strolling confidently to the stage, the Latina spitfire had audience members giggling at her exaggerated expressions and attitude. Performing the Spanish translation of a previous monologue, Ochoa had audience members roaring in laughter at “Mi Vagina Furiosa.” She shook her fists in the air and yelled in Spanish. She had the comedic timing of a professional and a rubbery face like Jim Carrey. She paused during her performance and cracked jokes at particular audience members who could not stop laughing, which only encouraged more giggling.
Ochoa was able to go from seductively speaking Spanish to outrage in a matter of seconds. She had the audience wrapped around her little finger. With her hilarious performance, Ochoa transcended language.
Smugly smiling, Amada O’Ruairc performed one of the most explicitly hilarious pieces to grace Mayan Hall in a very long time. Her voice sounded slightly deep and professional, every word she spoke was enunciated perfectly. She read quickly but maintained the integrity of each word. Audience members reacted well to her monologue “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy,” but it was not until the ending where she proved she was a star. She went from having a total command of the stage to having the audience wiping tears from their eyes from laughter. She grunted, moaned and yelled as she demonstrated 21 different orgasms. Couples in the audience pointed at each other and burst out laughing while others felt uncomfortable because of the blonde woman on stage maniacally grunting. After finishing the last orgasm she smiled wildly and bowed quickly to the crowd that furiously applauded her sense of humor and courage.
What had appeared to be a promising monologue listed in the program unfortunately flopped as a grand finale. “One Billion Will Rise for Justice” performed by Caressa Nguyen was meant to be a war cry to fight for women who have been abused, but it sounded weak. Nguyens diction was soft when the monologue craved a powerful voice.
Tackling subjects such as abuse, childbirth and sexuality, each piece was performed as unique as the woman on stage. Courageous and poignant, the Vagina Monologues was a profound experience for women and the men who support them.