Student actors perform ‘The Vagina Monologues’

The Georgia State Speakers Auditorium hosted “The Vagina Monologues,” a play written by Eve Ensler that tackles everyday issues people with vaginas experience. The critically acclaimed play was written in 1996 during what is known as the third-wave feminist movement. Ensler’s work is raunchy and hilarious yet emotional and compelling showing the ups and downs of having a vagina.

Only in February are colleges able to perform the pages of the award-winning play on a day known as “V-Day.” Georgia State participates and encourages more than just theater students to perform.

Students of different classes, majors and ages joined theater professor Mary Emily Deal and collaborated on the work beginning in January. The performances started with Deal introducing the group. Deal explained the history of V-Day and Ensler’s play, including the importance of the play. 

“The Vagina Monologues” is used to spread awareness about violence against women. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 35% of women have experienced physical and sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner. In 2017, a global study on homicide by the U.N. discovered that over 87,000 women were killed intentionally with half of the killing done by intimate partners.

On a Wednesday morning on campus, performers took the stage of the Speakers Auditorium to own their sexuality. After Deal’s introduction, three students took the stage to begin the upcoming short segments they had prepared for the audience during the preceding month.

The matinee performance showed a preview of what the next day’s evening show would look like. Due to illnesses, some performers had to cover extra lines as well, therefore causing them to read directly from the playbook. Nevertheless, this adversity did not hold them back. Each line was portrayed with as much heart and talent that could match a long-time actor’s work. 

The hard work began in mid-January when the performers were cast after auditioning. During the auditions, students performed selected pieces from the play, and the producers decided which act the student will perform. Performers had the opportunity to act and direct their portion while a few stuck to directing or acting, respectively.

After preparing for her pieces to be performed the next month, junior Aysia Johnson, an art major and theater minor, realized the outlandish writing would be a significant jump out of her comfort zone. 

“They are all real stories,” Johnson said. “One story [‘The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could’] had me messing with an older woman, and I didn’t know how I felt about saying all of this stuff in front of my parents, but you have to push through and get comfortable.”

Being uncomfortable was one of the most significant obstacles performers had to get through. Between the choreography and descriptive writing, Ensler’s play challenged the students to step out of their comfort zone. 

During the performance of the emotional “My Vagina Was a Village,” junior Kalli Edwards sat alone and displayed raw emotions with tears and moved the crowd reciting lines like “not since the soldiers put a long thick rifle inside me. So cold, the steel rod canceling my heart…” The performance resulted in a tremendous amount of cheering. 

Freshman Catherine Keeton, a director and actor for the monologues, performed the “The Woman Who Loved to Make Women Happy.” It was a story about discovering the various types of moaning a woman can have in intercourse. Keeton displayed the daring movements and sounded with grit without missing a beat of the character. 

Bria Moon, a senior political science major with a minor in theater, believes the pieces force you to think about the work due to its in-your-face attitude.

“The subject [of vaginas] should be a little bit more in people’s faces,” said Moon. “All the pieces encourage that in different ways and different subcategories.” 

Wearing all black with a T-shirt adorning the title and a torso with a microphone vagina on the front, the performers confidently nailed their lines discussing controversial topics such as genital mutilation, finding the clitoris and where a person with a vagina should be allowed to have hair.

For the evening show, Moon and Johnson acted out “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could,” a piece that discusses sexual abuse throughout the life of a young girl with each actor playing a different version of one girl. 

“Going through the different abuses the girl went through, it was very uncomfortable for me at first because I have experienced a similar form of abuse,” Moon said. “It was really hard to unpack and express that and speak the truth.”

The rawness of the acting was essential to the students because the audience needed to see the everyday issues, hatred and violence a vagina goes through. Focusing on the most intimate issues, the stories leap from self-love to denial of what a vagina means to the storyteller. 

By spreading their legs and sitting in an “un-ladylike” position, the choreography is an essential aspect to the portrayal of the story.