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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Vagina love for ‘The Vagina Monologues’

Published: February 17, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc.

“The Vagina Monologues,” performed on-campus last weekend, was a beautiful show. “Monologues,” presented this year by 30 young women, is an annual tradition at Brandeis, as well as at many colleges across the United States. It corresponds with V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women. All proceeds from the show went toward three organizations chosen by Brandeis students: the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Students Active for Ending Rape, and V-Day Spotlight Campaign 2012: Women and Girls of Haiti.

The show opened with a video montage of interviews with the actresses involved, nicely mirroring the fact that the actual show is based on interviews with more than 200 women. The music combined with the footage of women confessing their various attitudes toward vaginas gave me chills. Their answers ranged from silly to serious to awesomely ridiculous, such as sophomore Hannah Diamond’s statement that, if her vagina were to talk, it would laugh and laugh and laugh! I also loved the reference to the sensational YouTube video “Sh*t Brandeis Students Don’t Say,” as Emma Balmuth-Loris ’14 proudly declared, “This campus doesn’t care about my vagina!” This opening sequence set the stage for what was to come: a sincere and witty, yet touching account of women’s vaginas.

Although I also enjoyed last year’s “Vagina Monologues,” a difference in this year’s show that I greatly appreciated was the decision to keep all actresses on stage for the entire show. They sat facing the back wall, until one-by-one the actresses who had already performed would turn their chairs to face the audience. This set-up allowed for us to see the other women’s genuine reactions to each monologue. I witnessed smiles, grave faces and at times uncontrollable laughter. Having everyone on stage also created a sympathetic environment, as the women supported each other in what they had to say.

One of my favorite monologues was “The Flood,” performed by Maya Grant ’13. Although it was a generally serious piece, she brought out the humorous moments with her wonderful acting ability and accurate Southern drawl. Grant captured my attention for the entire monologue, and I felt for her in the awkward moments depicted in the story.

Another favorite monologue of mine was “My Angry Vagina,” performed by Jemesh Hunter ’15. She was so confident while delivering the story that the audience simply had to believe it. I could not stop laughing as she made us truly understand why her vagina was angry. Hunter was relatable and hilarious; the way in which she delivered the monologue is comparable to a great stand-up comedian.

And then, of course, came what I always call “The Orgasm Piece” but, in reality, was the second half of “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” incredibly performed by Marisa Turesky ’13. This performance takes guts! Turesky portrayed this sexually dominant woman confidently and flawlessly. It all led up to the climax of the piece, her depiction of different kinds of sexual moans. The crowd’s favorite was “The Brandeis Moan,” which seemed normal until she stopped, exclaiming, “I have to go study!”

I was emotionally taken by the group pieces as well. “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could,” featuring Lauren Grewal ’13, Shakara Scott ’13, Alison Thvedt ’15, Natasha Qidwai ’14, Anushka Aqil ’13 and Livia Bell ’13, was a somewhat depressing piece about a girl put through continuous trauma, although it ended up being quite moving. Each actress played a different age of the same girl, and they conveyed each story well. Even more importantly, although each actress looked very different from one another, I believed that I was watching different versions of the same person, as they really kept the same energy of the character throughout the piece.

Another poignant group piece was “They Beat the Boy Out of My Girl … Or So They Tried,” acted out by Rachel Barron ’14, Candice Bautista ’14, Samantha Cortez ’13 and Jeralyn Hawes ’12. First performed by an all-transgendered cast in Los Angeles in 2004, it is a poetic work about the hardships of being a man yet feeling like a woman. After a heart-rendering line about one woman’s boyfriend being killed, there was my favorite line of the monologue, talking about those people who terrorized them: “They were that terrified of love.” The women’s acting moved me, and it was an important message that any kind of love is beautiful. It is sad that some people cannot accept it.

I felt very uncomfortable quite a few times throughout the show, but I think that it should do that to audience members to get us really to listen up and come out of our prudish shells. I tried to take in all that I could, but it was difficult at times. For example, I could not bring myself to yell “cunt” in Rachel Benjamin’s monologue, “Reclaiming Cunt,” though I was impressed by her courage to do so, after listening to her say in the beginning video that vaginas make her uncomfortable. She added, however, “This experience has helped me feel more comfortable.”

“The Vagina Monologues” is a learning and growing experience not only for the audience but for the actresses as well. I was excited to see multiple friends of mine acting in it, even some that I did not know were doing the show. Director Meg Evans ’12 and Coordinator Sarah Steele ’13 did a wonderful job in putting the show together. Toward the end of the night, I looked at my watch, and could not believe that it was already 9:30 (the show had started at 8). I had been so enthralled with the stories that the time flew by. I am strongly considering auditioning for this show my senior year—I hope you will come see it then!