Victory for vaginas
The V-Day Campaign at the University at Buffalo continued this week with the annual performance of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues.
The show, which stars over 40 UB students and faculty members of all years and majors, sought to bring attention to the struggles of women everywhere.
The monologues dealt with issues both serious and humorous, from abuse and rape to masturbation and a spirited "taking back" of a derogatory four-letter "C" word often used against women.
Issues and atrocities against women abroad, particularly genital mutilation and sex slavery in Africa and ethnic cleansings in Bosnia and Kosovo, were also addressed.
The underlying theme of the play is women's sexuality and its myths, misunderstandings and misconceptions. It effortlessly brings awareness to issues that are usually ignored in a passionate and empathetic matter.
The production is successful in its depiction of sexual awakening taking place at any age. It can happen to an old woman having her first orgasm ("The Flood"), an African-American lesbian ("The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could"), or a lawyer who at midlife realizes that giving women pleasure is in fact her true calling ("The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy").
Whether its content is personal or political, a talented young woman who believes in her cause delivers each monologue with zeal and passion.
Notable appearances included "My Angry Vagina," starring Victoria Adams. An impassioned rant against the absurdities of thong underwear, gynecologist appointments, vaginal sprays, and more, Adams brought many laughs, while at the same time making the audience think.
"Crooked Braid" is especially memorable, using seven performers and telling the stories of Native American women both on and off reservations who are victims of domestic violence and abuse. It concludes with a powerful statement by the women on how their land and men have been ripped away – and they want them back.
Rape is also a subject the Monologues are not afraid to shy away from.
"My Vagina Was My Village" is a particularly poignant performance by Catherine Kiersz and show director Kayla Maryles. Both girls play different parts of the same woman, whose sense of self becomes fractured after being violated repeatedly at the hands of soldiers in Bosnia.
Nicole Volo is also a standout in this year's "2010 Spotlight Monologue: A Teenage Girl's Guide to Surviving Sex Slavery." Volo tells the story of a 15-year-old girl from the Congo taken hostage while on vacation, and the horrors she experienced over while in captivity.
More lighthearted pieces included "Wear and Say," where performers were given the opportunity to share what their vaginas would wear, say and do if they could speak.
The spirited Nicole Moore is immensely entertaining in her piece, "Reclaiming Cunt," which deals with the stigma around the word. Moore made it her mission to have the entire audience yelling the word with her, and eliminating any discomfort associated with it.
Other performances included "Hair," a tale of the annoyances that come with vaginal shaving, "A Six-Year-Old Girl was asked," and "I was there in the Room."
For the first time the show included simultaneous performances by both a hearing and American Sign Language cast, directed by UB instructor Emily Glenn-Smith. The symmetry and cohesion between the two casts was both remarkable and inspiring, and on more than one occasion the two casts combined their talents into one uniting force.
The Vagina Monologues was shown this past Sunday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. An additional performance was held Monday in the Student Union Theater as well.
The shows proceeds benefit UB's Anti-Rape Task Force, a division of Sub-Board I, Inc. that offers services to survivors of violation and abuse.