The Vagina Monologues: Sexuality, the Stage, and Fake Orgasms
This weekend, Wesleyan’s annual production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” will open in the ’92. Directors Ellie Sherwin ’14, Maddy Smith-Huemer ’14, Sarah Schorr ’12, and Adrienne Leach ’12 have put their own spin on this empowering show about the “down there” that most people only vaguely discuss.
“The Vagina Monologues” is performed every year, but it is by no means the same show. Each year, a new cast of actors and a new set of directors work together to tackle the script of female voices. Often, the directors have graduated to their position after being actors in previous years.
“You can always hear the voice of the person who did the monologue the year before,” said Schorr on the production process.
However, she pointed out that the directors are always looking to give a new spin on each of the monologues, and that they put a great deal of trust in the actors, letting them explore the monologues for themselves.
“It’s easy to take the same path every year, but we push ourselves to make different character choices,” said Smith-Huemer.
A show consisting of monologues presents an interesting cast dynamic. Each lovely lady gives a monologue rehearsed one-on-one with the directors. Hana Elion ’15 performs the first monologue of the show, entitled “Hair.”
“It’s a difficult, weird mix of really funny and really sad, which is kind of reflective of the whole show,” Elion said.
This week was the first time all of the actresses came together and were able to see the other monologues. This outside bonding was important to the development of the show, since such intimate topics, and it helps the actresses form strong relationships with each other. Trust among the cast was essential, and it was obviously achieved.
This trust and freedom of expression began before anyone even knew they would have the opportunity to rehearse. For example, during auditions, it’s an annual tradition to have each actress perform a fake orgasm—even the women who were not offered a role in the show had a taste of the experience of being open about one’s sexuality and womanhood on stage.
“[It’s] a cathartic experience,” said Schorr of the unconventional audition request.
Each year, proceeds from “The Vagina Monologues” go to a different charity. Past ensembles have given their proceeds to SHOFCO, which works to fight gender inequality through the education of young girls in African slums, and RAINN, which provides education and support against sexual violence. This year, all proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood. The directors found this choice appropriate due to the recent controversy over Planned Parenthood’s federal funding.
“The Vagina Monologues” is sure to awaken anyone’s (yes, even all you people who don’t identify as female) inner girl-power. The monologues unlock what may seem like an uncomfortable topic and present it in a variety of lights. The voices of hundreds of women reveal the complexity as well as the joys of possessing what proves to be the ultimate gonad.
Tickets are being sold at the Box Office in Usdan for $4, or can be purchased online. Come to a performance on Friday or Saturday and prepare to find a new love and appreciation for the ultimate V.