A mixture of both the eccentric and the disturbing, the play The Vagina Monologues illustrates various female narratives that focus on sexual violence as well as lack of free expression. Performed by an all female cast, the play had three showings last week on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in Benson Auditorium at Pitzer College.
Directed this year by Emery Lieberman-Auerbach SC ‘14 and Eden Olsen SC ‘14, the play was originally written in 1996 by Eve Ensler. The narratives shift from comical dismissals of gender taboos to more serious portrayals of sexual assault survivors. Running over an hour and half, the play is altogether more lighthearted and funny than somber.
The Vagina Monologues charged $5 for tickets and directly donated the proceeds to the House of Ruth, an organization that assists families victimized by domestic violence in the local area. Claremont Graduate School Student Kathy Hofeller started the organization in 1977.
Each year, the crew of The Vagina Monologues votes on a charity or organization for the show to benefit. Co-director Olsen, who acted in the play herself during her freshman year, was one member to vote. Leading up to the performances, the actresses met weekly to practice their monologues during one-on-one sessions with Olsen or Lieberman-Auerbach to practice. The initial dress rehearsal Monday was the first time that all the actresses practiced together. Olsen said most of the actresses got to know each other outside of the practices, as well, though.
“We tried to do more community events this time,” Olsen said. “We brought the crew together to do workshops and spend time with each other. Half of the time was practicing and half of the time was ‘write your own vagina monologue’ or ‘dance about your body’ [workshops].”
The narratives of the play, which are based on over 200 interviews of women talking about their vaginas, are finely executed by the actresses. Aurora Brachman PO ‘17 and community member Leslie Dunn are both charmingly funny, despite their gripping monologues about domestic abuse and isolation. Another entertaining actress is Clancy Tripp ‘15, who recently also starred in the Under the Lights production “The Dining Room.”
Tripp, who decided to audition for the play after seeing it on Facebook, said she was “blown away” by her peers’ performances, which juggled both serious and silly topics.
“I think especially for CMC, no one would come see it if it were just the intense serious stuff,” Tripp said. “Yet, if it was only silly it wouldn’t mean anything. It’s the perfect mix of making people feel uncomfortable, making them laugh, and in the end, entertaining them.”
With the show selling out all three nights it was performed, Olsen said she hopes the play raises awareness about controversial and pressing issues facing women everywhere.
“What it comes down to is this idea of creating this space where the word vagina can be said just like the word penis can be said,” Olsen said. “The play spearheads the idea of female sexuality. It brings to the surface all of these issues which we should be aware of.”