Eve Ensler once wrote, “Women secretly love to talk about their vaginas” – however, there was nothing secret about Wednesday night’s “shmendy” fest.
The first UCSB V-Day, a national movement celebrated around Valentine’s Day to stop violence against women, drew a packed Isla Vista Theater audience last night for “The Vagina Monologues.” The performance was free, however a suggested $2 donation at the door netted $808.88, which will benefit the Santa Barbara Rape and Crisis Center and Shelter Services for People.
The monologues, written by V-Day founder Ensler, featured 17 short plays based on interviews with American women of all ages and races concerning their vaginas. The performance was sponsored by Take Back the Night, Men Against Rape, Associated Students Women’s Commission, San Miguel and San Nicolas residence halls and UCSB’s Women’s Studies Program.
Undeclared sophomore Sarah Dalton, the director and one of its actresses, said she was excited to bring the production to UCSB and was overwhelmed with the turnout.
“I read the script over Christmas break, and it speaks for itself,” she said. “We had such a fabulous audience; because of their reaction, it was obvious something was touched.”
“The Vagina Monologues” opened with three of the 13-member UCSB student cast explaining the complexity of their vaginas, followed by a skit in which a narrator asked the characters what they call their vaginas, this yielded responses including “monkey box,” “hoochie snooter,” “wee-wee,” “the nappy dugout,” “mushmellow” and “shmendy.”
One short piece focused on the life of an attorney-turned-lesbian dominatrix. “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” performed by sophomore theater major Angelique Wilty, told the story of a woman obsessed with moaning. Junior psychology major Craig Hailey said the play was inspiring, and he was particularly fond of Wilty’s demonstration of multiple types of moans, including the “clit/vagina moan” and the “mountain-top moan.”
“My favorite part was when the chick started moaning uncontrollably,” he said. “I only wish [the actresses] would have told me how to get a girl to moan like that, especially that triple orgasm one. That would be cool.”
The play also included stories of rape and sexual oppression. The “Not-So-Happy Vagina Fact,” performed by Mimmi Juslin, described genital mutilation performed around the world using knives, razors and glass shards. Junior French and psychology major Randall Soliz said while he didn’t know what to expect from the performance, he had learned something by the time he walked away.
“I knew that [rape, domestic violence and genital mutilation] were going on,” he said. “And I was really saddened to hear about how often it happens. I wish I could do something about it, and I know I can, but I’m just one person.”
Planned Parenthood and Advocates for Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Prevention set up tables before and after the play to distribute flyers and answer questions. Dalton said the primary goal of “The Vagina Monologues” is to draw attention to the issue of sexual violence.
“V-Day is a spirit. We believe women should spend their lives creating and thriving rather than surviving or recovering from terrible atrocities,” she said.
Freshman communication major and performer Daphne Adato said she was overwhelmed with the success of the production and wished she could perform it again.
“The only disappointment out of all of this is that a play this provocative can only run for one evening because [“The Vagina Monologues”] is also being performed in Los Angeles, and we’re not allowed to do it more than once,” she said.
Jeffrey Bucholtz, the assistant director and a member of Men Against Rape, said he admired the actresses for what they accomplished and was honored to play a part in the production. “There was a family on that stage, and I want to thank them for letting me be a part of that.”
For more information about V-Day, visit the website at www.vday.org or to comment on the local performance, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.