Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vagina Monologues: Comedy with a Very Serious Subject

            The Pealer Recital Hall in the Performing Arts Center at the Frostburg State University campus was absolutely packed this past Friday with students, faculty and members of the local community. They all had gathered to watch a performance about the vagina. The stage was brightly lit with fifteen chairs arranged in a semi-circle facing the audience. The performers all wore slightly outrageous clothes; many would call their outfits scandalous. All of the girls danced onto the stage, pumped for their opening night performance.
            The performance consisted of a series of monologues written by Eve Ensler. Each of the monologues featured a different character, ranging from a young African American woman to a former tax lawyer who made an interesting career change. Each of the women told their own story, filled with real details and sensory language. Each of the ladies clearly had a vested interest in relaying the story of their character's experiences. The comedic timing was excellent, and the show went on with only minor glitches.
            Near the end of the performance, a short video clip was played featuring a number of scenarios in which women were marginalized. Rape, assault, and other violent acts were displayed in this video. The end of the clip showed the women rising up against the violence and acting against their oppressors. Afterward, the performers joined hands, giving their own speeches concerning the sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse that surround the overall issue of female oppression.
            The message struck hard at the heart and soul of the crowd. At the beginning of the performance, the opening speech even acknowledged the resources of the counselors, in case any audience members were in need of psychological help. The director clearly anticipated some very powerful emotions to be evoked by this performance. The audience members certainly did react to the whole performance, the video in particular, when addressing the message of the performance. Celina Bevington described the performance as “amazing”, but the video “was too much on a down note and they didn't leave themselves much time to raise the audience back up.”  Rachel Clark thought the video “made a lot of people aware of problems like that.” Heather Wahl, however, thought that the video was a “little bit extreme. It had some stuff I didn’t want to see.” She did say that she thought, “the message about no violence against women should be out there, but it could be communicated in another way.”
            These overall conflicting views concerning the video and the message certainly emphasized the impact that the performance had. People each reacted differently depending on their perspective concerning the issue. This spectrum of responses speaks of the impact of the video and the performers. It was a soul wrenching experience that really puts you into a new perspective on the gender differences issue. The entire performance really struck at the heartstrings of the audience. For that fact alone, the performers should be proud of themselves and their performance. It was an excellent show, and it should be recommended to anyone interested in attending.

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