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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Vagina Monologues’ depicts the struggles of womanhood

Published: February 13, 2013
Section: Arts, Etc.

Evoking emotions of compassion amid performances laced with an artful blend of humor, tragic suffering and self discovery, student performers portrayed the violent plights suffered by women globally through their rendition of “The Vagina Monologues,” by Eve Ensler, this past weekend.

With a diverse cast of students, stemming from departments across the university, the production transitioned between factual information revealing startling statistics of brutalities suffered by women and personalized monologues elaborating upon these themes. In dedication to V-Day, an activist movement aimed at raising awareness of violence against women of all ages, including rape, female genital mutilation and sexual slavery, the production was not only theatrical, featuring the unique talents of student performers, but informative and inspiring as well.

Jessica Hood ’15, who performed the monologue “Because He Liked to Look At It,” exerted a commanding stage presence through her seemingly effortless ability to embody the persona of her performance. Through her realistic rendition of the lines, perfectly timed and spoken in a blatant matter of fact manner, she effortlessly garnered laughter from the audience. The monologue captures themes of insecurity plaguing women regarding their bodies and sexuality, and the process of freeing oneself from these constraints.

Delivering lines such as “In order to survive, I began to pretend there was nothing between my legs,” she captured the sense of insecurity and self hatred torturing countless women. Connecting with the audience, her rendition of humorous lines such as, “Whenever a man was inside me, I pictured him inside a mink-lined muffler, or a Chinese bowl,” not only evoked laughter and appreciation from onlookers, but served to foster a sense of understanding through her ability to connect to the audience.

Other standout performances include Ashley Lynette’s rendition of “The Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy,” a monologue centering on a woman who specialized in pleasuring other females. Lynette’s fearless and dramatic performance seized the attention of the audience, while her rendition of the various types of sexual moaning experienced by women was not only intriguing but humorous as well. Ranging from the high-pitched elegant moan to the machine gun moan, the portrayal of sexual pleasure and moaning as a form of liberation was further enhanced by the silhouettes cast against the curtain during the performance, echoing the distinct moans emitted during different sexual experiences. Personalizing the performance, Lynette referenced the “Brandeis Moan,” saying, “I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on Judith Butler,” stimulating bursts of laughter from the audience.

Through lighting alterations and music, the mood transitioned to a more serious tone, depicting violence against women. Revealing startling statistics regarding the rape of between 20 and 70,000 Bosnian war refugees, Yuxin Yang, a first time participant in “The Vagina Monologues,” set the scene for the dramatic portrayal of dance and song that followed. Queen White and Bronte Velez seized the attention of the audience as they gracefully danced across the stage in harmony with the tragic music playing in the background. Telling the traumatic story of women brutally raped by male soldiers, the performance was both shocking and emotional. Velez and White’s beautiful rendition of the story evoked a strong sense of emotion, as their movements mirrored the increasing sense of despair and anger entangled in the performance.

Beyond the emotional portrayal of the brutal violence inflicted upon these women, the monologues proceeded to emphasize other, more subtle, yet evident assails of society against female sexuality. Through her angsty performance of “The Angry Vagina,” Samantha Cortez revealed the subjection of the vagina to countless forms of discomfort, ranging from the insertion of tampons to vaginal examinations with cold, steel metal equipment. Dramatic yet believable, Cortez commanded the stage, perfectly embodying the sassy attitude necessary to encapsulate the tone of the monologue.

Incorporating music, dance and monologue to portray serious issues plaguing society, “The Vagina Monologues” featured an assemblage of talented student performers who effortlessly mingled humor with the emotion necessary to encapsulate the gravity of the violence threatening women across the globe.