Sixteen starlets stormed the stage of Storer Auditorium Monday and Tuesday night in Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. According to the show’s program, the production was part of the V-Day campaign, “a global movement [to generate] broader attention for the fight to stop worldwide violence against women.”
The actresses, dressed in red and black ensembles that could be best described as a mix between class and sass, burst onto the stage from the back entrance of the packed auditorium, repeatedly whispering “Vagina!” to the audience.
In the dramatic introduction, all 16 women of the cast turned their backs to the stage as they disco-pointed their fingers in Vs, riveting the audience’s attention. Each actress also clutched her script decorated in red and black with assorted Vs, hearts, phrases and the like for the entirety of the play. However, there was little to no reading; the book-bound scripts served as props more than cheat sheets.
The directors, sophomore Megan Schulte and junior Melissalynn Lauron, precociously led the show, down to the careful orchestration of the actresses’ motions and movements on- and off-stage. Both directors alternated narrating the context at the beginning of each scene in their calm voices, which lent brevity to even the most hysterical scenes.
The first half of the show was generally on the lighter side, beginning with the artfully funny Silia Sagre, who acted out “Hair,” an account of a woman’s shaving of her vagina for her husband. Sagre spurted her words with a perfect Latina accent, pronouncing vagina as “bayina,” and drew laughs with her wild hair tosses and lines like, “Even Calamine lotion would help it-no!”
Starr Smith of “The Flood” delivered one of the most humorous monologues of the evening, which perfectly incorporated her Alabama twang. As Smith enacted an elderly woman’s account of uterine cancer and the rediscovery of her clitoris after seven decades of orgasm-free life, she delivered arguably one of the most touching monologues of the evening. The end of Smith’s monologue was especially poignant, as she said, “You finally got me to talk about ‘down there’… but you know what? I feel pretty good about it.”
Victoria Schwartz and Sola Bamishigbin brought the first half to an end with a bang with “My Angry Vagina,” a profanity-laced tirade on tampons, thong underwear and other annoyances. Schwartz and Bamishgbin were hysterical as they expressed their attitude with their head-swings, hand-on-the-hip poses and scrunched facial expressions to deliver the best act of the night.
not for the skittish
The second half of The Vagina Monologues focused more on sex, whether it was the Jessica Ellis’s account of a moving, graphic rape or the orgasm-like screams of Laura Perrino in “Reclaiming Cunt,” which ended with a nod to the post-coital cigarette. Also amazing was the coming-of-age memories in “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could” acted by LarSharVeA Bennett, who captured childlike petulance, the anguish of rape and the joy of self-discovery within one monologue.
The entire cast strutted onstage in their high heels for the last two monologues. The latter half of “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” told the story of a sex worker and showcased the cast’s versatile moaning ability.
All around, the performances in this year’s Vagina Monologues were outstanding. This show is not for the squeamish, skittish or prudish; it is an eye-opening, often uncomfortable look that seeks to help its audience realize the social attitudes toward one of the most taboo parts of the female physique. The talented cast members’ diversity, which ranged from nationality to age, size and shape, helped the audience identify with the words of Ensler’s play. Each actress lit up the bare stage, proving that you don’t need a showy set to put on an utterly remarkable show.
Hannah Bae can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.