‘Vagina Monologues’ Elicits Laughs, Reflection
Published: Monday, February 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 14:02
Even the impending winter storm Nemo couldn’t deter the crowds that descended upon McGuinn this weekend for The Vagina Monologues. Although the blizzard shuttered the Friday and Saturday night performances and rescheduled Sunday’s, the audience packed the auditorium both nights in support of the performance’s 10th anniversary at Boston College.
The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler’s groundbreaking 1996 play, takes the structure of a series of monologues, based on interviews held with women from a variety of age groups and backgrounds, concerning the female experience and, specifically, their relationships with their vaginas. The segments fluctuated from the comical, as performers reenacted in humorous fashion the universal irritations and pleasures of femininity, to the serious, as they tackled such topics as sexism, body image, genital mutilation, and rape.
Nicole Laniado, CSOM ’13, took on one of the most disturbing roles in “My Vagina Was My Village,” a monologue based on the testimonies of Bosnian women subjected to gang rape. “This role was definitely a challenge; but I found within it such an empowering presence and powerful personal connection with what it means to be a survivor,” Laniado said. “What was difficult for me was getting out of the character after playing the role, and finding ways to calm myself down. I often felt like I was trembling after going through the monologue.”
She hoped that her performance sheds light on some of these more difficult issues. “I see the overall message of my monologue as the struggle that survivors have to speaking the truth of their story and the hardship they face when trying reclaim their own truth. The monologue puts together all the unsaid things we have ever wanted to express,” Laniado said.
The project seeks to combat some of these issues directly, by contributing the entirety of its proceeds to two organizations dedicated to these causes. “V-Day is the national organization to help end violence against women, and they provide us with the rights to the show and the new monologue this year, Rising. We also want to support local organizations, so we chose My Life My Choice, a justice resource institute initiative to help girls who are most vulnerable to exploitation and provide them the resources and help they need to get out of that terrible system and lead a productive life,” explained this year’s directors, Charissa Jones, A&S ’13, Rebecca Kelley, A&S ’14, and Lili Chasen, LSOE ’15.
The partnership with V-Day in particular highlights the project’s commitment to raising awareness about these issues. “My monologue shares the pain and trauma that billions of women around the world go through everyday and it relates to the V foundation in terms of bringing awareness and joining the fight to end violence and aggression towards women all over the world,” Laniado said.
That the epidemic of violence against women continues into 2013, according to the participants, necessitates the tradition of this performance at BC. “As the 10th anniversary we wanted to have a unique take on the performance, which developed into the place settings that were seen before each monologue,” noted the directors. “This group was very special because they came with a completely different dynamic than previous years. Many of the cast members were brand new to The Vagina Monologues experience and were so open to new and different ideas and possibilities. We wanted to remind the audience that these scenes could happen anywhere, and everywhere. Some were obvious places while others were not so obvious.
“Our theme for the girls as we worked in rehearsals was ‘authenticity’. We wanted them to show the character through a raw lens, not necessarily making it a theatrical performance, but to take these characters and make it their own,” they said.
For the audience, this genuine approach resonated. “Although they perform The Vagina Monologues every year at BC and universities across the country, this was my first time seeing it, and it was incredible. The monologues are hilarious, moving, and above all, empowering,” said Laura DelloStritto, A&S ’13.
Given its power, the participants express the hope that this tradition will continue. “The Vagina Monologues is an important event because it forces people to think and reflect on women’s issues, and spotlights how still in society today violence against women persist,” Jones, Kelley, and Chasen said. “It showcases the complexity and beauty of a woman, as well as struggles women go through to be part of an unequal equation in society.”