If its name did not already convince you, The Vagina Monologues does not tiptoe around its contentious subject matter. Aware of its unorthodox star’s shock value, the play even begins by acknowledging: “it doesn’t matter how many times you say it, it never sounds like a word you want to say.” Springing out of concern for female expression, Eve Ensler’s play examines women’s issues and sexuality with the most candid language possible. Yet while making you squirm in your seat, Georgetown’s production of The Vagina Monologues will also make you simultaneously laugh out loud and reflect on countless women’s lives.
Presented by Georgetown University Take Back the Night and GU Men of Strength, The Vagina Monologues is directed by Zoe Lillian (COL ’12) and Emily Bertsche (COL ’12). The show opens tonight at 8 p.m. on the Devine Studio Theatre stage in DPAC and closes Sunday. When asked about her directing vision, Lillian emphasized that the play is a “collaborative process” that aimed to bring “spontaneity and freshness” through the pronounced influence of its strong actresses. “Every voice has a legitimacy,” she says.
While describing her hopes for the play’s reception, Lillian expressed her desires to both attract a diverse audience and “spark a dialogue” about women’s issues on campus through an equally engaging and entertaining production. Though acknowledging controversy, Lillian commended the play’s existence as a “testament to Georgetown’s desire for dialogue.”
Deeply rooted in the fight against violence and sexual assault, The Vagina Monologues makes a point of turning words into actions. Through buying tickets for the play, Georgetown students also contribute to V-Day: The Global Movement to End Violence Against Women and Girls Worldwide and My Sister’s Place.
These issues find their creative expression in such evocative monologues as “My Vagina was My Village,” which provides an intensely emotional response to the aftermath of sexual violence from Bosnian war refugees during the war in Yugoslavia. Using the metaphor of a village, two actresses address painful feelings of violation.
Though addressing heavy issues from sexual violence to transgender identity and lesbian relationships, The Vagina Monologues effectively strikes an appealing balance between serious subject matter and light humor. Consistently personifying the vagina, actresses even answered such hilariously unconventional survey questions as, “what would your vagina say if it could talk?” and “if you could dress your vagina, what would it wear?” The gleeful responses, each revealing something about a character’s personality, included everything from “lots of leather” to “Harry Winston diamonds…and nothing else.” In between emotionally painful monologues, such humorous speeches ranting about the world’s abuses against an “angry vagina” provide needed comic relief.
Confronting even the most discomforting of stigma, the Monologues combine to form an ode to women everywhere. As it explores a wide spectrum of emotions, the play effectively illustrates both the humorous and sad aspects of women’s lives through an amalgam of experiences. Through every voice, The Vagina Monologues delivers a poignant message about what it means to be a woman.
Photo: Luca Soldaini