Students act and direct in The Vagina Monologues

By Mariana Roa Oliva

In previous years, “The Vagina Monologues” at Macalester have been performed by a paid cast and professional director, courtesy of MPIRG funding. This year, without MPIRG’s money at their disposal, it fell to students to orchestrate and perform the play, donating their time to raise awareness of domestic violence and women’s sexuality issues.”The Vagina Monolgues” is, as indicated in the name, a collection of monologues inspired by conversations with women about various issues related to their sexuality and their own experiences and perceptions about the vagina.

The play, written by Eve Ensler, has already been performed several times at the College, sponsored by Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG). In previous years, the college’s chapter of MPIRG had organized the performance of the play, with a cast of external actors and an invited director, all of whom were paid with funds of the organization. This year, however, the performance of the Vagina Monologues was not one of the organization’s priorities, and not enough money was allocated for it to be performed as in previous years. Nevertheless, the MPIRG task force that focuses on issues of gender and sexuality decided to not give up the project and get “The Vagina Monologues” to be performed on campus, this time with an all-student cast. For the task force, the Vagina Monologues represent an important tool for female empowerment, as they help to raise awareness about issues related to female sexuality that have often been surrounded by stigma.

Through a Facebook event and mass emails, the task force requested volunteers to act and direct the play, and Amy Fitzgerald ’12 and Sara Horowitz ’13 were the first ones to reply. Fitzgerald said that “although our first intentions were to act in the play, we eventually accepted the offer to co-direct it.”

The college has gotten the rights to perform the play for free, as have many other colleges throughout the United States. The right to perform the play, however, comes with some special requirements, Fitzgerald noted. The official rules for performing the play include not changing any of the words or editing any of the monologues, and performing the play only during the “V- season,” which is the time frame between Feb. 1 and April 30 dedicated to raise awareness about violence against women and girls. Another requirement for the performance is that everyone that wants to participate must be included in the play, and the organizers must aim for a diverse cast. As the production doesn’t require much technical assistance, Fitzgerald and Horowitz decided that everyone that auditioned would be cast in the play. Fitzgerald said that “on the dates of the auditions, many more students showed up than we thought, and while we were conducting the auditions more people got interested.” As a result, the production ended up with a cast of about 27 actors. Because of the numerous cast members, some of the monologues that are usually performed by one person are presented now with three or four people. However, Fitzgerald said that it hasn’t really been a problem for the production.

“The Vagina Monologues” are presented every year at several the colleges and universities in the Twin Cities. However, this year a group of students from St. Catherine University were denied permission to perform it at their school. The administration argued that as a catholic institution, performing “The Vagina Monologues” could be damaging for their image, and that it might not be well accepted by donors and supporters of the college. The girls at St. Kate’s then decided to create their own version of the production. They collected stories from members of their school community, and performed “The St. Kate’s Monologues,” which, according to Fitzgerald was a very successful and inspiring play.

A very important objective of the performance of “The Vagina Monologues” is to raise money for an organization working to end violence against women. Every year a “spotlight monologue” related to a current issue affecting women is added to the play, and part of the money raised is sent to “The Spotlight Campaign,” which focuses on the issue exposed in the monologue. This year the spotlight monologue is about the victims of sex slavery in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Macalester’s production will send most of the money raised to Emma Norton Services, an organization that offers affordable and secure housing to women and families in need.

Tickets will be $7 at the door and $5 in advance. “The Vagina Monologues” will be presented at the JBD Davis Lecture Hall on April 24 and 26 at 10:30 p.m., and on April 25 at 4:00 p.m.