Toya Johnson performs “Little Coochi Snorcher” as part of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” on March 29. Ensler constructed the monologues from a series of interviews from women all over the world. Proceeds from the play will go to the The House of Ruth, a shelter for battered women in Pomona.
Uncontrollable gasps and giggles leaped out of the audience Wednesday night as they experienced a show unlike any other.
“The Vagina Monologues” was performed in the University of La Verne’s Cabaret Theatre to a packed house of curious guests who soon found out “vagina” is not a dirty word.
This play was written by award winning playwright Eve Ensler whose interviews with various women around the world inspired the powerful soliloquies showcased that evening.
“The message of the play is to normalize issues that women have been conditioned not to talk about such as your vagina and sex,” said Laura Alvarado, a graduate student majoring in counseling who performed the monologue titled “Because He Liked To Look At It.”
Each of the 11 monologues addressed an important issue that women all over the world face each day.
From genital mutilation and rape to shameful orgasms and the gynecologist, “The Vagina Monologues” gave women a chance to talk about the hidden truths that are often directly in front of them.
Because of society’s avoidance of words like “vagina,” Ensler felt it her mission to name this unappreciated part of the body, and so she created this play.
And with a desperate need for an end to violence against women and girls, this play gave birth to V-Day, an international anti-violence movement.
Pink and white chairs lined the Cabaret stage as T-shirts bearing phrases like “survivor of rape” and “sexual orientation” hung from an unassuming clothesline.
Kirsten Ogden directed this play as part of the University’s second annual women’s studies conference, Engendering Diversity and Community.
The conference was put on this year with the help of the Iota Delta Sorority to bring the community together to discuss issues involving gender and diversity.
Ogden said she wanted to spread the whole idea of awareness and raise money for a women’s organization.
She hopes that next year one of the sororities will put on its own performance of “The Vagina Monologues.”
That evening all 15 performers crept onto the stage and recited their monologues with conviction.
One elderly actress spoke about her vagina as a cellar in the monologue titled “The Flood,” she called her vagina her “down there’s” and described it as a place where little animals got stuck in her leaky pipes.
Another woman talked about the injustice of dry cotton tampons and skintight thongs in the monologue, “My Angry Vagina.”
One of the final monologues of the evening, “The Women Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” was about an ex-lawyer who found women and their various moans to be much more interesting than law.
Between comedic dialogues about vaginal woes, an out outgoing chorus also enlightened the audience about the sobering facts on violence against women.
These facts included how a razor or even a piece of glass is sometimes used in genital mutilation and that 500,000 women in the United States each year are raped.
“I just love supporting minorities of any kind, so being in this to support women is very uplifting,” said Toya Johnson, a freshman broadcasting major and a performer in “Little Coochi Snorcher.”
“Women have vaginas so they are seen as a lesser sex,” she added.
One of the monologues called “My Vagina Was My Village” had a particularly chilling effect on the audience.
This was a poem about a girl’s experiences in a Bosnian rape camp and by its end the audience realized that the title of the piece was all too realistic.
Other monologues included titles such as “The Vagina Workshop” and “Hair.”
Because the University was fundraising for the House of Ruth in Pomona – a shelter for battered women and children – Ensler allowed the University
to perform selected monologues from the original play free of charge.
A suggested donation of $10 per ticket netted a total of $1,504 by the end of the night.
The evening had an overwhelming feeling of empowerment; the Cabaret Theatre became a place where vaginas suddenly had their own voice – and they definitely had something to say.
In the play vaginas wanted to scream, they wanted to travel and they wanted freedom. They wanted to say “slow down” and “remember me.”
They suddenly had their own voice and this is what made the evening so special.
“I would never say these things in real life but I think them, and I feel them and the anger that is associated is definitely liberating,” said Brianna Roth, a senior theater major who performed “My Angry Vagina.”
All the feelings expressed in the monologues are the real feelings of real women whom Ensler interviewed.
“The Vagina Monologues” was more of a celebration of all things about women, rather than a series of soliloquies.
It became an overall emotion or moment in time where, just once, a woman’s “down there’s” became a woman’s heart.
And with some downright edgy performances by various students and faculty these moments brought forth enough emotion to fill the hearts of women everywhere.
“When you have something you define it; and I think this play is about getting the definition right about what it means to be a woman,” Roth said.
Katie Hillier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.