Student-run 'Monologues' return to campus

BY RACHEL KRUER
Daily Arts Writer
Published February 12, 2004

The V-Day invasion has begun. Legions of girls with “I
heart Michigan Vaginas” shirts have descended upon the
University. Magenta flyers adorned with the silhouette of a combat
boot are visible at every point on campus from the UGLi to the
corridors of East Quad. Whether you are ready or not, it is time,
as Eve Ensler would say, “to embrace the Vagina.” Her
off-Broadway play, “The Vagina Monologues,” sparked a
movement in colleges around the nation. It is now as synonymous
with college as red-plastic cups, pirated music and Madden 2003. On
Sunday, a student-run production of “The Vagina
Monologues” will be presented at the Power Center as part of
the V-Day Campaign.

Let’s not beat around the bush — the show’s
bawdy nature can be somewhat overwhelming for many. The humor,
however, acts as a tool to make the real issues digestible.
Constructed around Ensler’s “vagina interviews,”
the monologues illuminate real women’s pain, happiness,
misfortune and longing for a better future.

Originally released in 1997, it immediately garnered attention
for its unconventional fusion of acting and activism. The critical
and commercial success of the show allowed Ensler to expand her
vision into V-Day. Celebrated on or around Valentine’s Day,
Ensler gives up the rights to the show once a year so that local
theatre companies can produce it and donate the proceeds to
grassroots, national, and international programs that strive to end
violence against women.

To partake in the V-Day Campaign, groups donate 10 percent of
the shows to a specific, international charity. This year the
international charity Ensler chose is the Missing and Murdered
Women in Juarez, Mexico. Over 300 women and girls have disappeared
or been killed in Juarez over the past decade. These funds will be
channeled directly to Casa Amiga, a shelter for women who do not
want to risk abduction by walking or taking the bus home late at
night. Another 10 percent of the proceeds go to the Clemency
Project chapter in Ann Arbor and 80 percent will be contributed to
Safehouse in Ypsilanti.

Even if one has seen the production performed before by a
professional or university troupe, many changes implemented this
year demand an encore. First, Eve Ensler has incorporated three new
monologues, “The Memory of Her Face,” “Crooked
Braid” and “Eve’s Warrior Statement.”
Second, while maintaining the focus on violence against women,
Ensler promotes a political agenda. “It is safe to say that
Eve has become more political about talking about how violence
affects women,” said and producer of the show Johanna
Schuster-Craig, a LSA junior.

In the poignant monologue, “Memory of Her Face,” a
woman describes how planes “promising freedom” dropped
bombs from the sky that burned her face away into molten flesh.
Lastly, there is a reference to the University insinuated in
“Eve’s Warrior Statement.” Eve chronicles where
she has met women of different backgrounds and nationalities from
Pakistan, to Bosnia, to the University, where she spoke last year
on V-Day.

Another new feature implemented in the production is the male
“forum.” RC senior Sam Botsford, LSA junior Brandon
White, LSA junior Harlyn Pacheco and doctoral student Gary
Brouhardt all collaborated together to write this hilarious yet
tender take on their female counterparts. “Part of our
inspiration was derived from personal stories and from hearing
about what other guys talk about. We basically focus on the
confusion we have towards the opposite gender as there’s no
guidebook for us on how to understand women,” Botsford
explains.

As the play looms closer, each actress grapples with her own
difficulties in portraying her role. With the first monologue,
“Hair," LSA freshman Marisa Harris faces the challenge of
setting the tone for the entire show — funny yet poignant,
and experienced but not bitter. She elucidates the significance of
her role: “My monologue is about an important issue that
faces women everyday. My monologue is about hair — the hair
down there. Should you trim, should you shave, or just let it kick?
Whatever your decision is, it should be your decision to
make.”

LSA junior Rachel Easley, who denounces tampons and gynecology
exams in her impassioned rant, “My Angry Vagina,” has a
very unusual fan base planning to attend the performance. Easley
tells, “My family, church members and grandmother are all
coming. I’m a little nervous, because my grandmother has
never heard me talk like this; she’s a little conservative. I
try to tell people it’s a good thing, it’s only your
vagina.”

The director of the show, RC senior Susie Schutt, also promises
that the direction of the show is different this year. In the past,
video montages and other technical devices elongated the show time
and deviated from “The Vagina Monologues’ ”
organic feel. Schutt said her goal is to, “get (it) back by
being simple and let the words be powerful. To do this I did not
pick actresses.” Although few theatre majors are in the cast,
the majority of actors and actresses covet professional aspirations
outside the performance realm. When assigning roles, she took into
consideration the personalities, energy and tone of the individual
instead of an extensive acting resumé because, as Schutt put
it, “this is about women talking to women.”

 

Tickets are available at the Union for $10.00. The show will
play on Sunday, February 15 at 2:30 and 7:30.