Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Vagina Monologues: Expect the Unexpected

There’s a lot to say about the Vagina Monologues, a play by 1 Billion Rising and Frostburg State theatre members, that opened up this past weekend on Friday and Saturday, February 22nd and 23rd. This production was made to raise awareness about violence against women, including domestic abuse, manipulation, and rape, and is a very bold play. Words such as “cunt,” “pussy,” “vagina,” and “coochie snorcher” are used quite frequently during the production as a sort of ice breaker for the crowd, and it was clear who was and was not comfortable with this from the amount of people trying to quietly leave even before the first intermission. Prominent Frostburg State University girls, like Kai White and Lucille Blumberg, all made presentations of different women’s testimonies throughout the country to various questions posed to them during their interviews. Each interviewee had to respond to very unusual and unorthodox questions, such as “If your vagina could talk, what would it say?” and “What clothes would your vagina wear?” This play is something that delves into the roots of a woman’s sexuality, ranging from females as young as 6 and as old as 72 years old.

The reactions of the crowd were just what would be expected from the content and choice of words used by the performers. Despite the adult-rated language and performances, it was more than just profanity and possibly obscenity; rather, it was to exemplify the scrutiny of the woman and identify those double-standards in life which we accept as the norm. There were lesbian references – including a couple of the interviewees, there were sex references and imitations of female orgasms, and even personal stories of sexual encounters that the interviewed women had experienced during their lives. One example of the stories shared with the crowd on the two nights that the Vagina Monologues was performed is the account of a young teenage girl who had a sexual encounter with another young woman in her twenties. The woman was a neighbor of the girl’s family, as well as a beautiful lawyer, and the girl’s mother had allowed for them to spend time at the woman’s house (don’t let the words confuse you). It was there that the young girl learned how she enjoyed the sexual companionship of a female and not of a male, as she told the woman that she doesn’t like kissing boys. Although the girl never saw the woman again, the experience had changed her life as well as what she thought of her “coochie snorcher,” as the young girl’s mother referred to the vagina as.

There is not much more to say about the Vagina Monologues without retelling more of the stories shared in the production. The Vagina Monologues really is a collection of monologues from women across the country of all ages who were interviewed about their vaginas; hence, Vagina Monologues became the self-explanatory title. However, the one major thing that caught my attention the most is one of the final performances by an FSU student with a trimmed Mohawk. Her character was a woman who was once a lawyer and then became a paid female dominatrix. She illustrated for the entire crowd the sounds and body movements of over a dozen different female orgasms while sitting in a chair, each with its own unique name. It’s hard to imagine that some of the men in the crowd weren’t standing at attention during some parts of this particular act.

As I was an indoor usher for the Vagina Monologues, I got close to a front row seat to the production in addition to being able to see the crowd’s reactions to some of the content displayed onstage. It was a prime position for me to both observe both the performers and the audience, as well as joke around with one of the stage managers, Donnie. The experience overall was enjoyable once the awkwardness of certain words was taken away and I applaud 1 Billion Rising for creating and coordinating such a significant, complicated, and daring production.

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