Vagina Monologues promotes an end to abuse.
The Vagina Monologues are performed annually at Montclair State University in celebration of V-DAY Montclair. In a series of monologues written by Eve Ensler, the performance is an act towards ending violence against women and girls. The March 2015 shows marked the 14th year that Montclair has honored V-DAY. Over 30 Vagina Warriors gathered to empower women and spread awareness. This year there were a few changes in the V-DAY Montclair production of The Vagina Monologues. Auditions (held by the Women’s Center and MSU Players) allowed MSU alumni to take part in the show.
“[There is] a sense of community and having alumni in the show continues the fostering of community that The Vagina Monologues creates,” said alumnus Alexis Longo. “It’s not only within the cast, but within campus.”
Another change made to defend this opinion of not being gender inclusive is the addition of men to the cast. While many of the monologues are women’s stories in reference to men, the performance ends with five men acknowledging these stories as they read monologues declaring they would not be a perpetrator of the violence. Also, Ensler wrote a monologue from the perspective of a transgender woman, “They Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy…Or So They Tried,” which was added to the performance. Five performers read the monologue and the transgender flag is held up at the conclusion of the act.
“Many people were nervous about the inclusion of men in this year’s production, and rightfully so as The Vagina Monologues has always been a space for women,” said junior and second-time performer Johanna Durazzi. “But as the rehearsal process went on it was clear that the only thing stronger than warrior women weeping and standing up for change, is men weeping and standing behind them to show their support.”
As a first time attendee of the show, freshman Jamie Napoleon said, “I thought the monologues were extremely empowering. It is so important to spread awareness of the issues The Vagina Monologues address. As a female, the monologues brought me to feel more confident in myself and more aware of the world around me. I am so proud of all of the warriors that had the strength to speak and/or tell their story.”
The performance not only affects the audience, but the performers as well. Sophomore Julie Dunic said, “As a first time performer, I was blown away by how much this process intertwined with the lives of me and the rest of the cast. A lot of time was spent discussing issues we have seen and our own experiences. We had to fill ourselves with passion and hope in order to portray it on stage.”
To end the show, the audience members are asked to stand if they have ever been or know someone who has been raped, abused or sexually assaulted. The number of people who stood was large, but this performance is meant to decrease those numbers.
“The people in the audience are an extension of us on stage,” said Longo. “When they stand at the end of the show it’s a community of people rising in action, saying: no more, we’re not going to tolerate violence against girls and women and anyone who’s been abused.”
Ninety percent of the funds from V-Day Montclair go to Project Unbreakable, a project that features photographs of survivors and activists in an attempt to voice the abuse in which they and other women have and continue to endure.