With such a jarring name, The Vagina Monologues, may prompt a judgmental reaction until one sits back to experience first hand what the play is really about.
Vagina Monologues was written by Eve Ensler and is traditionally performed during V-Day week each year. V-Day is a global activist movement that aims to end violence against women in every way that they can and has been doing so for 16 years.
Once you’ve arrived, actresses channel the emotion and struggles of the women whose stories are being shared.
“It’s important that people hear these kinds of stories and are able to learn and understand what these women and other people have gone through,” says Amanda Irwin, a Senior at Rhode Island College who has participated in The Vagina Monologues for three years.
The Vagina Monologues raises money for local charities every year, and this year The Sojourner House was the beneficiary. The Sojourner House is a comprehensive domestic violence agency and is committed to serving victims of all kinds of violence and abuse by providing shelter, support, and services.
Cedar Hayes organized and hosted the event this year, and as a senior at RIC this is her third year hosting the production. She explained the lengthy process that goes into planning the event, and explained that the cast is put through domestic violence training with representatives from the Sojourner House.
“It is important to make small communities at RIC remember that we care and there are groups that remind transexual women and women of color and all these different women that they are welcome, important and that their voices matter”, says Hayes.
Hayes stressed how much of a bonding experience this provides for the cast members, as the whole production is extremely emotional. One surprising fact that Hayes shared was that they only have two rehearsals in order to preserve the integrity of the stories and remind the audience that the people that performed the stories did not write them. This year was also the first time that one of the personal monologues was in the form of a song, which was a beautiful and moving addition to the production.
Jacqueline James participated in the monologues by sharing her personal experiences through a song she wrote and performed.
“This is important because there is little acknowledgement of the things women go through. To bring a bunch of people together, whether women or transgender men or any oppressed communities together and have them experience something empowering brings people together and helps some people realize what is really going on,” James says.
Hosted by Feminists United, the event also had several cosponsors–The Gender and Women’s studies Department, The Women’s Center, Alpha Sigma Tau, Delta Phi Epsilon, Active Minds, and Day One.
If you were unable to attend the event this year, definitely make a point to go next time because it is a production that has a powerful impact. This is just one of the many ways that awareness can be brought to the different issues surrounding women such as rape, domestic violence, and judgment of being who you are and saying how you feel.