Massachusetts Daily Collegian

“The Vagina Monologues” performed at UMass

By Kate Evans

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Hannah Cohen/Collegian

Hannah Cohen/Collegian

University of Massachusetts students, faculty and local residents gathered in Bowker Auditorium this weekend to listen to performers talk about one thing – their vaginas. The monologues discussed sensitive topics such as female genital mutilation and sexual abuse, as well as comical topics like what the typical UMass student’s orgasm sounds like..

“The Vagina Monologues,” the award winning play by Eve Ensler discussing women’s lives and sexuality, was performed last Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings on campus. The humorous and heart-warming play is run by V-Day and was sponsored by the Everywoman’s Center and VOX. V-Day is a global movement to end violence against women and girls and raise awareness through the funds obtained from Ensler’s play, according to literature handed out at the event. The Everywoman’s Center is an organization on campus that provides a variety of services to campus and community women, based in both emotional and more direct needs. VOX is a group for the voices at Planned Parenthood. “The Vagina Monologues” are a series of interviews and true stories of real-life women’s experiences, acted out by others.

Tables were set up on either side of the Bowker lobby, some selling chocolate vaginas and others promoting safe sex by giving away condoms, stickers and information booklets. One table promoted the importance of keeping young girls in school in areas of lower economic status where there isn’t enough money to buy personal hygiene products.

As the lights dimmed and the crowd grew silent, the women who filled the stage were beautiful. They were all wearing variations of black and green, donning pretty hairstyles and giving off strong auras. One of the performers rocked sparkly green high heels, while others wore green boas, green earrings and green scarves.

There were 32 acts in total, and the crew of female performers divvied up their time by acting in several skits each. In the first act, Letisha Marie Harris told the story of a woman who realized that pubic hair is there for a purpose, and that you can’t just pick and choose the parts you desire.

The next act, titled “The ‘Wear and Say’ Lists,” had the packed audience roaring with laugher. The first piece of the act asked the question, “What would your vagina wear?” The answers ranged from solely jewelry to leather jackets. The second part of the act asked the question, “If your vagina could talk what would it say?” Though the answers varied, the initial response yelled in unison by all performers on stage was, “Slow down!” The almost-entirely female audience clearly agreed shown by their laugher and a rumble of murmurs.

Though the performers certainly knew how to get the audience comfortable, the middle of the play was anything but comical. The performers discussed female genital mutilation, which is a procedure practiced in some cultures where part or the entire clitoris and other parts of the vagina are removed to deny the woman pleasure.

Another monologue told the story of a boy that wanted to be a girl, but was beaten until he acted like people told him he “should.” Beginning off as a sad story, the audience appeared uplifted to hear the boy, after growing into a man, finally made the decision to transition into the woman he had always wanted to be.

Actresses Susan Callender and Nina Goodwin told the horrific story of women held captive as prostitutes of the Japanese military during World War II. The performers portrayed a perfectly angry and scarred depiction of what it might be like after experiencing something so horrific.

As four performers reclaimed the “C-word,” they slowly stripped off their layers to reveal one letter on each woman’s t-shirt, spelling out the word. Rachael Bazzett, Jasmine James, Erika Sian and Melissa Urban screamed the word repeatedly until the audience chanted with them, feeling liberated.

In the last monologue, the entire cast gathered on stage to perform a series of specialized orgasms. The “College Student Orgasm” moaned over deadlines, the “Harry Potter Orgasm” gasped spells, and the “UMass Orgasm” had the audience keeled over in fits of laughter as one performer added a sexier touch to “Go UMass.”

“The Vagina Monologues” is packed with hilarious, informative and heart-breaking material that every woman should see. Although it was a bit difficult to hear some of the introductions to the monologues, the majority of the performers displayed strong acting skills and a sense of vibrancy that radiated into the audience. Chocolate vagina lollipops in hand, the crowd filed out of Bowker excitedly chattering with friends over their favorite skits.

Kate Evans can be reached at [email protected]

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