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‘The Vagina Monologues’ embraces female pleasure and feminism

“Vagina, vagina, vagina.” One of the most frequently mentioned words in the play, it is the topic of Eve Ensler’s 1996 play “The Vagina Monologues.” It is all “The Vagina Monologues” is about, yet this is fine because it is not dull nor has it gotten old.

The episodic play was performed March 24-26 at the SCC Theater. The play started with a monologue about hair—titled “Hair”—and how marriage usually requires a wife to compromise her complete happiness and comfort, such as shaving her vagina, leaving no “protection” or “fluff.”

The director, Zari Havercome ’16, did a good job using the players and the available space. Not only was the direction well done, but also the cast was able to build the hope for “trust, empathy and genuine love and appreciation for one another” that Havercome was wishing for.

Throughout the entire show there were scenes in which the play required the whole cast to step on stage, usually starting the scenes with “All of the women were asked the following questions.” One of those questions was: “If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?” The responses were random and comical, such as “glasses,” “a male tuxedo,” “Armani only,” “something machine washable,” etc.

What remains still so refreshing about “The Vagina Monologues” is its desire to empower women across the world, regardless of where they come from or where they are going to. Perhaps it is why the play is so utterly universal, because the roles are not physically specific at all. It made it easier for this year’s production, and many others across the globe, to be splendidly diverse.

One stand-out was Abby Levi ’19, performing “Because He Liked to Look at It.” She delivered her lines in a relaxed and comfortable way. Her monologue was about a woman who had a good experience with a man referred to as Bob. He demanded to turn on the light while he was “studying a map, observing the moon, staring into my eyes, but it was my vagina.” Levi drew laughs; she demonstrated an exceptional ability to do stand-up comedy with her charming characterization and engaging storytelling.

Another instant highlight was Alex Shapiro ’18 performing “Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy” about a sex worker who only did sex work with women. The sex worker had so much experience making women happy and met women from distinct walks of life. She proved her unprecedented abilities through her demonstration of the different “power moan[s].” There was the clit moan, the almost moan, the Grace Slick moan, the doggy moan, the college moan, which was something like “I should be studying,” among others, all very well moaned by Shapiro. She mentioned not having any acting experience prior to “The Vagina Monologues,” however, she rocked the stage with her black leather attire and confidence, which was visible in her gestures, posture and, of course, moans.

The truth is that the night was littered with great talent—Gabriela Astaiza ’19 was another revelation. She performed the “My Short Skirt” monologue that made more than one audience member snap in agreement to the feminist statements that the monologue contained. One of her lines said, “My short skirt is not a legal reason for raping me, although it has been before it will not hold up in the new court.” Astaiza’s seriousness and conviction were enough to make a blunt, important statement.

In addition, “My Vagina was My Village” was a significant piece because it talked about rape and how 20,000 to 70,000 women were raped in the middle of Europe as a systematic tactic of war and no one did anything to stop it. Then, before the monologue commenced, it was mentioned that in the United States about 200,000 women are raped annually. The monologue had beautifully worded metaphors: “My vagina, a live wet water village. They invaded it. Butchered it and burned it down. I do not touch now. Do not visit. I live someplace else now.”

The production was impeccable and encouraging. The director, Havercome, envisioned this play as if she was directing “the beginning of movements like the Brandeis Students Against Sexual Violence rallies” or when students occupied the administrative space for 12 days during Ford Hall 2015. “The Vagina Monologues” is a show that recognizes the importance of the play’s themes, such as social justice and equality.

Every member of the production had women to recognize in honor of all the women who have “lost their lives to the violent acts of the ignorant and the evil.” The hashtag #SayTheirName(s) is gender inclusive. Hence the use of the singular they/them/their pronoun includes people of nonbinary identities, which leads to the conclusion that this year’s production could not have been more universal.

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