Vagina Monologues Puts Out Amazing Show Once Again
Photo by Nora Jang
A word that, when stated in public, will catch ears, turn heads, and trigger looks. But after a night at the Vagina Monologues, “vagina” became no more than common vocabulary. In fact, I came away with a little extra vocabulary: synonyms for “vagina” from cultures of all sorts, my favorite being the “coochie snorcher.”
The group of girls chosen to perform began rehearsing in late November, marking the beginning of the show’s steady progression toward its end goal. “It’s been a challenge, definitely,” says Morgan Rose, one of the show’s directors and a junior at Berkeley High School. “[But] I’ve really enjoyed watching the process, starting from something that wasn’t anything and ending up with this really cool, finished product.”
Vagina Monologues originated in 1996, written by the now famous Eve Ensler as a series of stories taken from over two hundred interviews with various women. In 1998, Ensler initiated the V–Day movement, a worldwide effort to generate “broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls.”
This year, BHS’s Vagina Monologues will be donating proceeds to both V–Day and Bay Area Women Against Rape, a local organization working towards stopping violence against women.
Without question, the show was fantastic. One of its most intriguing aspects was the sheer variety of monologues. Varying from a breakdown of what it means to be a girl in 2010 to tragic stories of women scarred by rape, to rants about the discomfort of tampons, the audience was constantly kept on their toes. An emotional roller coaster, the course of the show struck levels of sadness and anger, but could flip to comedy and humorous criticism in an instant.
In between each monologue was a group act, where a few members of the cast would collaborate on a short skit. While each actress might have an individual role, they often all represented the same person or story. One of the stronger, more somber group acts was “They Beat the Girl out of My Boy (Or So They Tried…),” where four cast members alternated in and out of the spotlight, each telling part of the story of a male transexual who becomes a woman, but is harassed and faced with violence from members of the community because of his sexual preferences and identity. The piece was eye–opening and used the metaphor of a car alarm that has finally been shut off to represent the feeling that she had felt before finally accepting herself and becoming the woman she was meant to be.
The cast also did a phenomenal job of engaging the audience. While the female viewers could certainly relate to, or at the very least deeply empathize with many topics brought up during the monologues and group acts, the detail and imagery shown in the language made even myself, a male, feel as though I shared these experiences with the characters on stage.
“My Angry Vagina,” performed by Nikko Butler, criticized the way vaginas are regarded by society. The monologue comically addressed the uncomfortable tests that women are submitted to by doctors and by the end left the audience in stitches as she pleaded doctors to please “warm up the duck lips!”
This monologue was only one of many that contributed to the show’s reputation for revealing aspects of womanhood normally buried in society and not usually discussed in public, in this case, displeasures that are often swept under the rug and considered normal.
Certainly the most animated monologue of the night was “The Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy,” performed by Sophie Becker as a lawyer–turned–dominatrix. Her portrayal of all types of moans from different women, even one specific to BHS, was unbelievably hysterical, and quite possibly left every audience member aching from laughter.
Despite its purpose of entertainment, Vagina Monologues was more than just a show to the performers. According to Sarah Priano, a Berkeley International High School (BIHS) junior, inspiration and unity among the cast members were huge factors in the success of the show. “I think just being a part of Vagina Monologues has really made me love being an independent girl.”