THEATER REVIEW ‘The Vagina Monologues’

Raising Awareness and Celebrating Female Sexuality

The Vagina Monologues

Written by Eve Ensler

Directed by Kellas Cameron ’10,

Petek Saracoglu ’09, & Ari Shapiro G

February 12 - 14, 2009


What would Valentine’s Day weekend be without a celebration of women? And I’m not just talking about getting your girlfriend or gal pals chocolates or flowers, or taking that cute girl from lab out for dinner. I’m talking about the Vagina Monologues, a production that has raised millions of dollars for anti-violence organizations over the past decade.

Monologues is a collection of stories, facts, and pieces. Some are humorous and others, focused on educating audiences about female sexual awareness and anti-violence efforts, are more serious. Started in 1998, the production highlights a different issue each year in one of the monologues; this year’s highlight, “Baptism,” focused on the mass rapes in the Congo.

Last Friday night’s showing was quite packed, with an expectedly larger number of women than men in the audience. As a Vagina Monologues-virgin, I was not quite sure what to expect. The conservative side of my brain was ready to brace myself for possible moments of discomfort, cringing, and awkwardness – I’d heard about the moaning and the unabashed use of terms like “cunt” and “pussy.” I shouldn’t have worried: I found myself enjoying the show immensely and was surprisingly comfortable throughout the two-hour production.

The show began on a humorous note, with a melange of vagina metaphors, comparing the female sex organ to entities ranging from the Bermuda Triangle (“no one comes back from it”) to MIT references: “the black hole” (Random Hall), “a sponge” (Simmons), “single occupancy” (MacGregor). In “Wear and Say,” Laura Fallon ’09, Jennifer Nelson ’09, and Lauren Shields ’10 gave spirited answers to the question of what your vagina would wear if it could don clothing (A tutu! Combat boots! Sweatpants?). Other topics of discussion included the mystery of the orgasm and a potentially lost clitoris in “Workshop.” Elise Kuo ’11 gave a delightfully vicious rant in “My Angry Vagina” against thong underwear, tampons, and gynecologist visits.

After intermission, the monologues took a more serious, darker turn, with pieces about rape and sexual assault. An Vu ’09 gave a haunting performance of “My Vagina Was My Village,” a look into the atrocities faced by a Bosnian rape victim of war, that nearly moved me to tears. The thick silence in the room made it clear that the rest of the audience was equally moved.

A rather tongue-in-cheek piece about the absurdity of prohibited vibrator sales in comparison to the sale of guns helped transition into more comedic pieces to finish the night. Devorah Kengmana ’12 was adorable as the “Six Year Old Girl,” with hilarious outbursts including “Snowflakes!” when asked what the vagina smells like.

And even though I had braced myself for some moaning, nothing could have prepared me for the extremely impressive range of sounds by Melinda Dooley ’09 in “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy” — my favorite was the bossy moan, although the Sarah Palin moan was clearly a crowd pleaser. (There was also an MIT moan: “I’m so glad I came… to office hours.”) To end the night, “I Was There In The Room” celebrated the miracle of birth and compared the vagina to the heart. I was left with a greater sense of appreciation, awareness, and love for my vagina and my worth as a woman.

This year’s presentation of the Vagina Monologues, originally written by playwright and founder Eve Ensler, was produced by Liz Iffrig ’10 and Rachel Licht ’10. Directed by Kellas Cameron ’10, Petek Saracoglu ’09, and Ari Shapiro G, the show raised funds for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC).