Vaginas’ voices empower women, dismiss taboos

Originally published on Feb. 4, 2010, for The Daily Eastern News.

“If your vagina had a voice, what would it say? What would it wear?”

Eve Ensler, performing artist and creator of “The Vagina Monologues,” interviews women annually, asking questions akin to this in order to add new stories to her play about womanhood. As time went on, she received more stories about violence, rape and abuse toward women, leading to her founding of V-Day, an organization to help end violence against women.

This weekend, the 4Women group is producing “The Vagina Monologues” to raise money and awareness for this cause.

Jeannie Ludlow, women’s studies coordinator and an English professor, is the faculty adviser for the play.

“Each monologue is about two to eight minutes long and in a different woman’s voice,” Ludlow said.

The content for each monologue is different: From a rant about menstruation, to a cheerful anecdote about sexual pleasure, to a memory of rape, this 90-minute play will leave the audience on an emotional roller coaster.

Strong language will be used and stories are blunt; it may be difficult for sexual assault victims, Ludlow said.

AJ Walsh, a communication studies instructor and actor in “The Vagina Monologues,” said the thing she is looking forward to is the audience’s reaction.

“It is such a provocative work, and it really gets the audience to think, laugh and sometimes cry,” Walsh said. “It is definitely an experience for the audience.”

Eastern has put this show on twice before, in 2006 and 2008.

“We do it every other year to avoid audience saturation, which is when audiences become bored with the same play being shown every year,” Ludlow said.

Crystal Grissom, a senior theatre arts and physical education major, is directing the play. She wanted the job because the play has a powerful message about issues women face, along with gaining personal experience to achieve her goal of becoming a theater teacher.

Ludlow said she is excited the show has more student participation than in previous years, when most of the actors were faculty members.

“The Vagina Monologues” will be performed today, Friday and Saturday in the Tarble Arts Center Atrium. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. The 90-minute show has no intermission and can seat fewer than 200 people per performance. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, $10 for everyone else, and can be purchased by contacting Jeannie Ludlow in the Women’s Resource Center at 581-5947, or at the Union ticket office. Few tickets will be sold at the door.

All money raised on ticket sales goes to the Sexual Assault Counseling Information Services and HOPE, a domestic violence shelter that serves local counties.