Kimmie Jones, Staff Writer Sonoma State STAR
From Broadway to Sonoma State University, “The Vagina Monologues” has grown into a revolution of women sharing real life stories to educate, inspire and put an end to sexual violence. This play was written in 1994 by playwright and activist Eve Ensler. Ensler conducted a number of interviews with women who were willing to share stories about abuse, love and their vaginas.
According to vday.org, many women feel inspired to share their own stories after attending the play themselves. This quickly went from a work of art to a movement to end sexual violence. With this movement, Ensler created V-Day, a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls. V-Day has raised over $100 million through productions of “The Vagina Monologues” and other work. This money has helped fund over 13,000 community anti-violence programs and safe houses in countries around the world.
This play that started 21 years ago in Broadway is being performed in locations all over the world and has found its way to Sonoma State’s campus.
Sonoma State University’s adaptation of “The Vagina Monologues” was directed by Amanda Cowan and Daniela Brady (assistant director) and made up of 38 female students. The cast had been rehearsing since October for their three-night show from Friday through Sunday. The play is made up of real-life stories told by women and acted out by the cast members. The women interviewed were asked a series of questions about their vaginas: “If your vagina could talk, what would it say?” “If your vagina had clothes, what would it wear?” The word itself can make just about anyone feel uncomfortable, especially when there are cast members talking about “pussy power” and “loving your vagina.”
That’s the point. Cast members attempted to get members of the audience to understand the fact that women today are uncomfortable talking about their vaginas, but in order to love herself, a woman must love her vagina. There was laughing, crying, blushing and even “c*nt” chanting throughout the audience. Each story was beautifully told and different from the one before, but what made them work was the connection they had with the audience. The support in the crowd was unbelievably strong.
“There’s parents, there’s friends, there’s teachers. A lot of professors came and other faculty on campus. There’s some grandparents and kids,” said Assistant Director Danielle Brady.
It’s safe to say that this cast and this cause have a variety of supporters of all ages. The biggest support for the cast had to have been from the V-Men in the crowd.
“The girls, if they wanted to, could have a V-Man, which is a man in their life that is important to them and supportive of their vaginas and all vaginas,” said Brady.
Some of these important men included roommates, dads, brothers, boyfriends and best friends of cast members. The importance of the V-Men is to show that sexual violence is not just a women’s fight, but also a fight that needs the support of both men and women. Throughout the show, the V-Men were sitting in the front row cheering louder than everyone else in the audience and connecting to the performers throughout each story. After closing night on Saturday, Cowan gave thanks to those involved while the entire cast held hands in tears. The bond and relationship between these women was noticeable and inspiring.
With most of them having little to no theater experience, it may seem terrifying to act out a scene about vaginas in front of a large crowd. But as cast member Ariana Reed said, “It’s so much more than just acting.”The cast went through months of rehearsal together where they heard stories of women all around the world through their script as well as shared some stories of their own.
“We all share a lot of personal things,” said Brady, “and so a lot of these pieces can definitely relate to some of these girls.”
For audience members, T-shirts, vagina shaped chocolate and other paraphernalia could be purchased at the show. The money raised from this specific show was donated to Sonoma County’s only sexual violence crisis center, Varety. There were also counselors from Varety present for anyone who may have been emotionally affected by any of the acts during the show.
As Brady said, “We are at a campus that needs to be educated, like most college campuses.”
And that is exactly what the cast did. They educated the audience on how important it is to love every part about being a woman and how important it is to stand up and protect women from sexual violence all around the world. V-Day continues to raise awareness and funds to build and expand the movement to end violence against women and girls.
Sonoma State is taking the stand to end sexual violence and stand up for the vagina.