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Natalie Del Castillo
“Vagina,” junior Kaitlin Clarke said during the introduction of the show. “Doesn’t matter how many times you say it, it never sounds like a word you want to say.”
Last week, Radford University hosted its 4th annual production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” in support of V-day, a global movement opposing violence against women. There were three showings, two nights and a matinee, in the Hurlburt Auditorium sponsored by the Radford University Club Programming Committee, Gay-Straight Alliance, Student Health Awareness Club, Women’s Studies Club, Women’s Studies Program, The QEP Team, and the Office of the Provost.
A cast of ten bright and talented young women worked diligently under the direction of Dr. Diane Montgomery, an adjunct theater professor at RU. Along with Clarke, the cast consisted of senior Samantha Adkins, senior Astin Altenburg, sophomore Courtney Boone, Blacksburg High School senior Brenna Bowyer, senior Corita Fields, junior Olivia Rose Hilton, freshman Carlissa Smith, senior Stephanie Smith and local actress Amanda Snediker. Their hard work was apparent throughout their performances in front of three almost-sold-out audiences.
Prior to the Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday showings, the cast practiced for about three weeks. There were group rehearsals, as well as one to two hour one-on-one monologue practices with Dr. Montgomery. Dr. Montgomery said it was a challenging experience to work with some students who had never had any experience with performing in front of an audience but found that she experienced some self-discovery.
“I always learn,” said Dr. Montgomery. “I’ve learned to have more fun and to lighten up a little bit.
When asked to direct “The Vagina Monologues”, Dr. Montgomery had mixed feelings as a director and as a Christian woman. She turned to prayer to help her decide if she should or should not direct such a controversial play. A friend of hers had mentioned that the point behind “The Vagina Monologues” was the “message” but for Dr. Montgomery as a director, the message isn’t her job to direct.
“For me, directing is about the art you are creating,” said Dr. Montgomery. “I work with the actors, with creating choreography, timing, phrasing, living the part in an artistic endeavor to tell stories. THAT creates its own message. What people may take home from this may be very different.”
“The Vagina Monologues” is a compilation of over 200 women’s interviews that were conducted by Ensler. The women were asked their views on sex, relationships and violence against women. While the monologues are not word-for-word the stories of these women, they spread a message of women empowerment that is connected to their sexuality.
The cast performed 16 different monologues. Some of the stories brought tears of joy to the laughing crowd and others brought tears of sorrow.
Bowyer had the audience doubling over in laughter at her version of the “My Angry Vagina” monologue. She discusses the unfortunate things put into women’s vaginas like tampons.
“It wants to stop being angry,” said Bowyer as she ended the monologue. “It wants to want. My vagina…well, it wants everything.”
“My Vagina Was My Village” was a monologue performed by Adkins and Stephanie Smith. One of the more graphic stories, this monologue tells two stories about the same woman. Adkins represents the woman who loved her vagina. With a smile, she described her vagina as a village that was green. Smith enters the stage and tells the story of the woman who was violated. She describes an explicit rape that was done by six men over the span of seven days. The two end the scene speaking in unison of a woman who went from embracing her sexuality to a woman who felt nothing but hate towards her vagina.
Toward the end of the show, Snediker brought down the house with her rendition of “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy.” She told the story of a woman who became obsessed with making women happy. Snediker had the crowd’s attention when she acted out 20 different types of orgasms. Everything from the “Clit-Vaginal Moan” making a deep in the throat type of sound, to the “College Moan” screaming out “I should be studying, I should be studying.” There were many red faces in the crowd, to say the least.
The Hurlburt Auditorium gave the cast a standing ovation at the end of Saturday’s matinee. After the show, it was announced that Radford had raised almost $2,000 for the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley. The audience was also asked to sign up through text message for Eve Ensler’s global day of action “One Billion Rising” on Feb. 14, 2013. Ensler’s goal is to have everyone “dance until the violence stops.”