Theater review: ‘The Vagina Monologues’ hits the spot

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Tears of laughter rolled down my face as 20 or so women surrounded the audience, shaking the room with orgasmic moans. Never have I heard the word “vagina” repeated so many times in such a short amount of time, and never have I been more proud to own one. Every year, I look forward to the CU V-Day Warriors‘ performance of playwright Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues.”

The performers go head first into, well, vaginas. The word, and all its colorful synonyms, is admittedly a strange word — not very sexy, as the opening monologue humorously points out. But once it was shouted out, loud and proud, by the actresses dressed in black and red, I began to love the sound of it. With the stage set Old Main’s Chapel Theatre on campus, the monologues left no vagina-related stone un-turned, both the light and the heavy. The play delivered in its 12th year on campus Saturday.

The “My Angry Vagina” monologue personifies the vagina to get a laugh but also as a truthful way of addressing the normalized yet outrageous things women are put through, mainly tampons and visits to the gynecologist.

“You got to convince my vagina, seduce my vagina, engage my vagina’s trust,” the monologue said — a riff on the sensitivity of vaginas — yet women are expected to be all right with shoving a dry hunk of cotton and cold, plastic duck lips up there. Ask any woman, and they will tell you how unpleasant it is. That was wonderfully empowering: the truth came pouring out of the actresses’ mouths for an audience of all ages and genders to absorb. Women love to talk about their vaginas, but it’s always privately among trusted friends. To have an entire production based on these secret conversations is nothing short of liberating.

More importantly, the play include the voices of women who experience violence due to having a vagina. The most serious monologue, “My Vagina Was My Village,” addresses rape as a war tactic. Specifically, it tells the story of Bosnian women who were raped during the war in Yugoslavia. It is brutal, nightmarish and unimaginably cruel, but never something to be swept under the rug as it routinely is.

Similarly, in “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could,” stories of homeless women are represented by one compelling story. The monologue deals with the issue of child sexual assault among women who end up homeless after being abused. You may wonder why such difficult topics are brought onto the stage, but that is truly the goal of the show.

Assistant director Christine Johnson said, “We want to just raise awareness and start a conversation in the community about these things. We just want to make it more comfortable so then we can start working towards a solution.” A problem is never fixed if it isn’t talked about. It’s as simple as that.

“The Vagina Monologues” will be donating almost all of their proceeds to Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA), a local nonprofit that provides emergency crisis hotlines, educational services, counseling and staff who are trained to deal with emergency and crisis situations involving sexual assault.

“Being on a college campus, that’s such a huge issue,” said director Clara Cuthbert when asked why she chose to support MESA. “[Sexual assault] was part of national discourse for a minute in September, and now it’s not any more, and that doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Despite the ongoing problem of sexual assault and a pervasive misunderstanding of vaginas in general, what gave me hope was the audience. Women and men (yes, men attended a show about female genitalia) college-aged and beyond laughed, cheered and gave a roaring standing ovation at the end. To see such a diverse crowd of people who believe in the cause and received the message of the performance was a welcome surprise.

Contact CU Independent News Writer Sarah Farley at sarah.farley@colorado.edu.

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