For students touring the University, their starting point is often the Michigan Union on State Street. For the past month, an enormous banner has welcomed these students with “The Vagina Monologues” stretched confidently across the arch of the entrance, decorated with pink and purple. The bold placement of the sign, unable to be missed by passersby, echoes the confidence of the play it promotes. There’s no beating around the bush here.

Straight to the Point: The Vagina Monologues

March 26 at Rackham Auditorium, March 27 at Trotter Multicultural Center
7:30 p.m.
Tickets at Mason Hall: $5 Presale, $10 at the door

This Thursday and Friday, March 26 and 27, Eve Ensler’s triumphant play of female empowerment will be performed at Rackham Auditorium and the Trotter Multicultural Center. This is the 5th annual showing of “The Vagina Monologues,” sponsored by Students for Choice, a student organization which advocates for pro-choice legislation.

The cast of 15 is a diverse group of women ranging in age, race and acting experience. With recent criticism of the play for being non-inclusive of certain identities, “our mission has been to prove to people that it’s still relevant and that we are being as inclusive as we possibly can; there is a place for everyone to be in and enjoy this play,” said year’s director Kayla Smith, an LSA sophomore.

Both Smith and producer Rhani Franklin, an LSA sophomore, are new to theater at the University, and first time directors and producers. This fact seems only to have added to the strength of their vision and connection to the play.

“Art and performance can be a really powerful way to communicate a message and enact social change,” Smith said of the play. “‘The Vagina Monologues’ will make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, but it will also make you think about real issues.”

The breadth of issues that the play is able to address makes it a powerful catalyst for conversation and thought.

“It’s fun and different and shocking,” Franklin said. “There’s so much I wouldn’t have thought to talk to people about until seeing this play.”

Beyond just being a conversation starter, the play is a call for action.

“It also encourages activism for ending violence against women and gender violence to college campuses,” said Kylee Smith, an actor in the play, said. Kylee, a master’s student in the School of Social Work, will be performing in the play for the fifth time this year.

“The most important message is that violence against women needs to be stopped,” she said.

While responses to the play, both at the University and across the nation, have ranged from disgust to kneeling praise, “The Vagina Monologues” is intended to relate to all people — men included.

“I think a lot of times when people try to explain to men why feminism should matter to them, they say things like, ‘Well, how would you feel if someone did this to your mother or daughter or sister?’ ” Smith said. “I find issue with that because men shouldn’t have to feel sympathy or that they are involved and invested in feminism because of someone close to them, they should feel this way because women are humans, women are half the population.”

College is a time for people to enter into conversations they’ve never had before, listen to voices they’ve never heard and explore issues that are shushed in other settings. “The Vagina Monologues” presents these challenges and profound privileges, all in one. It is guaranteed to open some eyes.

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