Phenomenal Women

Lauren Mimms

If your vagina could talk, what would it say? Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” is a drama about different women profiling, well, their vaginas. However, there is much more to the story. The LU presentation of this show, which is performed worldwide, took place Feb. 26 and 28 at 6 p.m. in the Wriston auditorium at $5 a ticket. All proceeds benefited the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of the Fox Cities. The show was directed by junior MarVanna Avery-Cash and starred 14 women in conjunction with V-Day, a national organization that supports an end to violence against women.
The production is a series of monologues told by individual women about their experiences and self-discovery. The monologues have been performed since 1996 and are based on a collection of interviews Ensler conducted with over 200 women. There are more monologues by Ensler than those performed, and the director of each show can choose one extra to add. Each year, groups across the nation perform the monologues, and each year there is a specific theme. This year drew attention to women’s mistreatment in the Congo. In this production, 11 specific stories were told, interspersed with interesting and powerful facts about women.
The performances of three freshmen actresses – Sam Smith, Sasha Johnston and Arriel Williams – were highlights of the show. Sam Smith began the monologues with a reading of a paper written for her freshman studies course titled “My Vagina and Its Waiting Room.” This unique piece gave insight into the true meaning behind the work: the quest for individualism and embracing oneself completely.
Smith said, “This paper was a way to share my identity with others. By doing so, it shows that it’s not just about the vagina, but about how people use sex and gender to identify with it.” Later during “The Vagina Monologues,” Smith performed “The Angry Vagina,” cracking up the audience with her screaming hysteria, which, she said, “Drew attention to the fact that when women are angry, people do not usually pay attention. It emphasized why women would be angry in society.”
Sasha Johnston was also a crowd-pleaser, portraying a dominatrix whose passion was to make other women happy. Her impressions of various women’s unique orgasm screams drove the audience wild with laughter. However, as Avery-Cash suggested, “The orgasm piece is less about the sex and more about women getting past the shell of their pain and getting to what they really want.”
Although humor was present throughout the production, there were more sobering monologues showing the victimization of women. Freshman Arriel Williams’ monologue, “My Vagina Was My Village,” told the story of a woman who was violently and repeatedly raped. Williams connected the viewers to the suffering women across the world face every day.
“Crooked Braid,” performed as a duet by Francesca Romero-Siekman and Jessica Newsome, was another one-of-a-kind feature in Avery-Cash’s rendition. MarVanna Avery-Cash chose “Crooked Braid” because, she said, “It spoke to me the most. I chose to make an interesting change and have two girls perform it.” This piece highlighted domestic abuse in Native American culture.
The rest of the diverse cast included freshmen Natasha Pugh and Joanna Ransdell, sophomores Emily Galvin, Gena Parsons, Isake Smith and Hannah Sweet, and juniors Holly Tuyls and Kaleesha Rajamantri.
As always, the production was a powerful statement about feminism, awareness and identity.
If you would like to get involved with V-Day’s LU chapter, contact President Emily Stanish or Stacy Klemme.