It may be a shocking revelation to many that despite their proximity and prominence, few women have actually seen their own vaginas.
One could blame it on the undue amount of fuss, mirrors, free time and uncomfortable positions aided by a pillow (or three) it requires. So maybe it’s no surprise that some women compare their ‘down there’ to a black hole or a mysterious void.
“The Vagina Monologues” aimed to shed some light on that void, with tales from around the country about the hardships, joys and discoveries that come with owning a vagina. The play was performed on Monday evening at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry by a collaboration of women from the University of Connecticut theater groups Page to Stage and Dramatic Paws, as well as members from the women’s empowerment group BRAVE Girls Leadership, Inc.
Directed by Allison D’Alusio, a fifth-year senior majoring in American Sign Language and disability studies, “The Vagina Monologues” brings together tales of sex, self-discovery, heartbreak and empowerment in a series of short skits and monologues written by Eve Ensler, who based the play on compiled interviews with over 200 women about sex, sexuality, gender and their relationships with their vaginas.
“I think each story got to tell some kind of lesson,” D’Alusio said. “How society sees women, how the country sees women, how the world sees women.”
It wasn‘t sugarcoated and it wasn’t in a vacuum. One monologue, ‘Reclaiming Cunt,’ involved the speaker commanding the entire audience to shout ‘Cunt!’ as loud as possible, in an effort “to reclaim the word.”
Some of the monologues took a humorous side. In ‘The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,’ a female dominatrix detailed the various moans of her women clientele in her line of work, including the Britney Spears (“Oooh, baby baby”) the Diva (Which hit an operatic high note) and even the UConn moan (Punctuated by a “Woof!” and the Husky hand signal) which made the audience roar with laughter.
Other monologues were solemn. “My Vagina was My Village,” performed by two cast members, told the stark contrast between the ‘before’ and ‘after’ the sexual assaults of Bosnian women during the Bosnian War, tears streaming down the face of one cast member as she described the atrocities committed.
Between pieces, several ‘Vagina Facts’ were recited, covering topics from the clitoris to genital mutilation in Africa, and translated into sign language by D’Alusio herself.
The evening ended with the the powerful piece “I Call You Body,” performed by the entire cast and articulated with stomps and handclaps. They asked the audience in unison: “Can you call our bodies home?” which was received with a standing ovation at the end.
“The Vagina Monologues” was a personal and collaborative effort between the women who participated, D’Alusio said.
“We all tried to put ourselves in each thing,” she said. “These girls put so much of themselves into these monologues.”
The performers’ passion was well received by the audience, who lauded the effort and messages presented in the play
“I think it’s great that women get together to do this,” Erica Buehler, an eighth semester English major said. “It’s so powerful because so many women relate to it. I think they did an amazing job of getting (the message) across.”
Male members of the audience said that although they lacked vaginas themselves, it was an important message for them to hear.
“This stuff never gets brought up,” Justin Jager, a fourth semester acting major who is part of Page to Stage, said. “I think it’s a good idea to support this. It’s a side of the story that guys don’t often get. It’s like half of the world lit up.”
Overall, D’Alusio said she hopes “The Vagina Monologues” will make women more at ease with the mysterious region that is the vagina.
“These stories help us get comfortable with things, like saying the word ‘cunt,’” D’Alusio said. “It’s something so many people can relate to.”
Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @marlese_lessing.