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November 30, 2016

‘Vagina Monologues’ performed at Bowker

vaginamonolog

Courtesy Everywoman's Center

They meet every Sunday as an entire group, with a supplemental smaller meeting during the week, to discuss one thing: their vaginas.

The cast of the “Vagina Monologues,” coming to Bowker Auditorium Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m., has been rehearsing for just under a month, and is made up of over 40 women. While most are University of Massachusetts students, members also include staff from the Everywoman’s Center, a haven for students of any gender expression to turn to for help.

The “Vagina Monologues” was originally written by Eve Ensler, who based the show on the findings of her personal interviews with over 200 women. The first draft was authored in 1996, and has since been rewritten in over 45 languages and performed in over 120 countries, according to information given by cast members.

With the “Vagina Monologues,” Ensler also began a global movement in response to violence against women and girls, which has adopted the name V-day. According to their web site, V-day has raised millions of dollars towards new educational, protective and legislative efforts around the world, as well as becoming a means of spreading awareness of sexual violence. However, the most meaningful aspect of V-day is the celebration of women and their right to thrive, rather than suffer.

The “Vagina Monologues” production headlining at UMass chronicles over two dozen different accounts of women’s life experiences with their vaginas.

In one such piece, the audience is confronted with the issue of using women as sex slaves, a problem which occurred during war in Japan many years ago, but remains a prevalent issue to this day in Congo. However, there is also the contrast of these serious and upsetting subjects with more humorous ones.

“It’s got the whole package,” said Kayla Fasano, a sophomore Microbiology major. Although this will be her first on-stage appearance, she remains calm about the opening of the show, saying how moved she was when she first viewed the show and became inspired to be involved.

Fasano said that the original production includes only one woman per monologue; however, because so many students auditioned for the show, which took place over three nights last semester, more than one performer is on stage for each piece.

Although the cast is large, there still remains to be a diversity of students in appearance, race and age, and each member brings their unique interpretation of the monologue to the stage, along with strength and pride.

According to one participant, a UMass graduate student, the show is compiled in a women-only space, since it is used to empower female sexuality.

Another member of the cast believes that women often fear the idea of talking about their sexuality and need for pleasure. Instead, many remain docile and use the mass market of female sexuality to hide behind because “it’s easier than confronting our own issues.”

“Confronting something like this in the “Vagina Monologues” is really hard and emotional, and I think a lot of women try and avoid that,” said Hannah Reuter.

The title of the production itself is enough to deter men from a performance that is designed to raise awareness in everyone, not just women.

“The production isn’t about man-bashing or man-hating or anything like that. We actually have a few pieces that do talk about how good men can be,” said performer Jennifer Bergus. The “Vagina Monologues” cast hopes to open the audience’s eyes to the struggles women face living in a predominantly male environment. In this sense, sophomore and cast member Samantha Creed believes men will “be empowered by it to support the cause and really learn something from it.”

Despite common hesitation when talking about women’s sexual pleasure, the Vagina Monologues is a production which tries to promote the idea that open discussion about this topic should not be seen as taboo. It is a step towards embracing female sexuality, as well as encouraging women to love their vaginas.

Elyse Horowitz can be reached at ebhorowi@student.umass.edu. Marianne Kim can be reached at Marianne@student.umass.edu.

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