You’re talking about down there?!
Watching The Vagina Monologues was the first time I’d seen a production about such a controversial topic. During a recent dress rehearsal, I started with my hands covering my eyes and just peeked between my fingers. Then, I moved my hands to my ears. I had never heard this stuff before: women talking about their vaginas. The more I listened, the more I realized this had to be talked about.
The Vagina Monologues was written by Eve Ensler. Ensler interviewed women of many backgrounds, cultures and ages about their vaginas and sexuality. The women came from places as diverse as New York and South Africa.
Nora Brashear, one of the production’s actresses, helped me see the nature and purpose of The Vagina Monologues. In her day job, Brashear works as a grant writer for St. Mary’s Hospital. She gives a bubbly attractiveness to her part, which involves presenting statistics—both funny and out of the ordinary. The idea of the play, she explained, is to raise awareness about the abuse and discrimination that many women experience as a result of being female.
The play is being presented locally by the Crisis Call Center as a fundraiser for assault victims, and proceeds will benefit the Call Center’s Sexual Assault Support Services program. Crisis Call Center provides education services to the community and supports individuals in crisis by helping them to make constructive and productive choices. The project is also sponsored by Feminist Majority Leadership Alliances, a domestic program that offers survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault a wide range of services that help women maintain independent lifestyles free of violence.
Unusual for a theater performance, actresses were given few cues or blocking instruction during the rehearsal I watched. Each actress determined how to deliver her lines with proper body language so she could accurately portray what was happening in her character’s mind.
This is the first onstage performance for many of the women, including Brashear. Some are representatives of women’s rights groups. One of the performers is from the Crisis Call Center. Others are high school and college students. This is also the first time for director Erin Schweber.
I’ve been a part of many high school and community theater productions, but what I saw in the rehearsal of The Vagina Monologues surprised me. The play is often moving, thanks to Ensler’s clever way of portraying how women experience the world of sexuality in both negative and positive ways—from rape to the physical enjoyment of sex—and to the ability of many of these first-time performers.
The actresses wear symbolic clothes of black and red. When black appears, thoughts of dark, endless holes arise. Red evokes happier images, like sunsets and Valentine’s Day.
There are many triumphs in this play. It’s an innovative way to approach the subject of female sexuality rather than letting it be controversial and sterile—the way you’d learn it in a sex education class. The Vagina Monologues is a fundraiser, a comedy and truth all in one.
Amanda Taylor is a student at Rainshadow Charter Community High School.