After weeks of spotting an inconspicuously colored, human-sized vagina around campus — an image that has probably loomed in many students’ minds — the “Vagina Monologues” finally hit the stage at Campbell Hall last weekend.
The UCSB Women’s Ensemble Theater Troupe put together the much anticipated performance and held shows on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Before each show, Planned Parenthood representatives offered free condoms and pamphlets.
A large diorama-esque vagina was also displayed for good-natured photography purposes. A bake sale in Campbell Hall’s lobby also raised money for rape crisis response and awareness, keeping with the play’s larger themes.
The only adequate way to describe the Women Ensemble’s performance of this year’s “Vagina Monologues” is fabulously, splendidly, exuberantly joyful. There was a true sense of camaraderie and warmth as the ladies — and the handful of males — in the room were pushed to acknowledge — nay, to embrace — the bonds of their femininity and, in all its unpleasantly connoted glory.
Before the show, I sat in my seat apprehensively awaiting either angry feminist declamations or sappy depictions of female empowerment, having only a vague notion of what the “Vagina Monologues” were. What I encountered could not have strayed further from these simple preconceptions. The Monologues directly address societal notions of womanhood. The heavy questions that surround this topic were explored through “vagina interviews” conducted by author Eve Ensler and later converted into monologues that ranged from comedic and nostalgic to tragic and horrifying.
No vagina, great or small, was left behind. Female inhibitions were cast off the stage and obliterated at the resounding echo of a “triple orgasm,” ardently performed in Marjan Riazi’s interpretation of “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” a monologue about a female sex worker.
The monologues were not limited to overtly erotic themes. Some monologues humorously addressed issues that were familiar to any woman, like that of the horror and confusion of menstruation in “I Was 12, My Mother Slapped Me.”
“Because He Liked to Look At It” featured the struggle of acceptance of female identity and sexuality, through Allegra Latimer’s simple yet affecting rendition. Other monologues addressed topics more alien and terrifying, such as “My Vagina Was My Village,” in which Nabrashaa Nelson and Mary Mehkens poignantly depicted the testimonies of Bosnian women in rape camps.
In “Reclaiming Cunt,” Sophie Hasset ended by fervently shouting “cunt” and was joined by most of the revved up audience, contributing to the spirit of collective empowerment. The whole performance received many laughs, gasps and shouts, adding to the overall experience of jovial community.
At the crux of the “Vagina Monologues,” however, lay a darker issue that affects the entire world: rape. The monologues ended with the entire troupe’s performance of “Over It,” which implored both men and women to acknowledge the wrongness of remaining silent in the face of injustice, reminding us we have the power to positively affect change within society by no longer putting up with rape culture.
Whether or not you are a fan of talking about vaginas, listening to people talk about vaginas or vaginas in general, the many messages touched upon in last weekend’s performances are worth serious thought. Author Eve Ensler, put it better than anyone else with the poignant line: “No women, no future. Duh.”