Hundreds of students, along with many other members of the Boston College community, crowded into McGuinn 121 on Thursday night as V-Day of Boston College kicked off its first of three consecutive performances of The Vagina Monologues.
“There was an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone who spoke to us after the performance,” Samantha Costanza, the director of the production and MCAS ’16, said in an email. “We are so humbled and honored to be able to present such an important show to the BC community.”
The Vagina Monologues was first performed in 1996 and written by Eve Ensler. The monologues are based on the experiences of over 200 women who Ensler interviewed for this project. For many of the participants, the project was the first time in their lives that they were able to express their thoughts and experiences regarding sex, marriage, love, expectations, rape, masturbation, and many other topics related to the female experience that had long been considered taboo.
“I can proudly say I have found another family by being in this group. I learned that we all bring something valuable to this experience, and one person’s strength does not detract from mine.”
-Kenye Askew, MCAS ’18
Ensler started the V-Day movement in 1988 to raise awareness and end violence against women and girls. Performances of The Vagina Monologues during February in conjunction with V-Day have become an annual tradition on many college campuses, raising millions of dollars for the fight against violence toward women.
As a part of the global V-Day movement, the proceeds from the ticket sales were donated to two different charities: V-Day’s Spotlight on One Billion Rising and to a project of the Justice Resource Institute, whose mission statement is “a preventative initiative which helps adolescent girls in the Boston area identified as being at risk for sexual exploitation.”
The Thursday show started with an introduction to the topic of the night’s performance: vaginas. The performers presented all forms of the word from across the globe. The actresses had the audience laughing with innuendo references to various BC landmarks, like White Mountain, Agora Portal, and Mary Ann’s.
The show continued with 16 monologues that discussed different aspects of the female experience from various perspectives. Issues from the past, the present, the LGBTQ community, and from all over the world were highlighted not to demonstrate differences, but to express the shared experience of women.
“The stories we tell as actors are stories from real women about real issues, and because it’s not just one woman’s story, it is every woman’s story,” Grace Fucci, MCAS ’17, who performed “The Flood” in the monologues, said in an email. “There is something incredibly poignant and universal about this production, regardless of your age, race, gender, sexuality, or experience.”
Much of the show dealt with topics such as transphobia, genital mutilation, sexual abuse, and rape. Monologues such as “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy,” which articulated transgender women’s abuse and predicament in society, and “My Vagina Was My Village,” the story of a rape victim during the Serbian-Bosnia conflict in the 1990s, brought to light the realities of violence against women.
Not all of the show, however, focused on dark or saddening material. Several of the monologues described the happy, empowering, and liberating experiences of women. The performance of “Because He Liked To Look At It” by Kenye Askew, MCAS ’18, discussed how the love and respect of a man helped her gain self-worth.
“I wished to highlight the struggle of learning to love yourself,” Askew said about her performance in an email. “BC is a competitive school, and the competition continues throughout the four years. We want women to see their worth, and know that all aspects of them are worthy of their love.”
The production also touched upon the societal expectations and norms that constrain women. Gender roles, patriarchy, dress and style, sexual norms, and slang all were discussed, using a combination of humorous and serious anecdotes to discuss the still-prevalent inequality in treatment and expectations that women in society face.
The show ended with two monologues that led to a standing ovation from the audience. “I Was There In the Room,” the story of Eve Ensler witnessing the birth of her grandchild, put female power into focus. Samuela Nematchoua’s rendition of “Revolution” described the ongoing struggle for women’s equality and empowerment.
“I can proudly say I have found another family by being in this group,” Askew said about her experience being a part of the all-female group. “I learned that we all bring something valuable to this experience, and one person’s strength does not detract from mine.”
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor