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   Date: 2/5/10 Bookmark and Share

Annual Vagina Monologues Spreads Message of Self-Appreciation

When The Vagina Monologues, a play by Eve Ensler, was first produced 12 years ago, it sparked a sort of revolution, helping women regard their bodies with fresh appreciation and insisting on a new societal comfort regarding women’s bodies and identities. Since then, the play has become much more than a stage production, broadening, through Ensler's V-Day campaign, into a worldwide phenomenon focused on helping women wherever they are oppressed.

For several years, Smith students have annually staged a production of The Vagina Monologues, around Valentines' Day, for consistently enthusiastic audiences. This year’s performance will take place on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in John M. Greene Hall. Ticket proceeds will benefit the national V-Day campaign and, locally, Safe Passage, a shelter for women and children in abusive situations.

Student performers recently responded to questions about the production.

Grécourt Gate: How does participating in The Vagina Monologues change or strengthen your attitudes toward yourself as a woman?

Esther Mobley ’11: The Vagina Monologues are trying to make us all more comfortable with the word "vagina." This is especially important because, as my father says, our society is already comfortable with saying the words for male genitalia. Performing in The Vagina Monologues is one of my favorite parts of being at Smith. It is a day when we celebrate that we are women.

Kaitlyn Krauskopf ’10: This show makes me consider my womanhood in a new light, as something worthy of acknowledgment, appreciation and celebration. The Vagina Monologues has definitely reaffirmed that I'm coming into my own womanhood as a dynamic person, and it inspires me to be more assertive and confident as a woman—all very positive things!

Genevieve Guilfoile ’13: From the time we are young, other adults continue to tell us that anything that has to do with a vagina is a shameful topic of discussion. However, as actors it is our job to tell the stories of these women as truthfully as possible. In order to give a truthful performance we have to push aside any shame and experience the story along with these characters. Telling a real woman’s story gives us the opportunity to be more familiar with something that is so important to us as women, and therefore more comfortable with our identity.

Lauren Kaelin ‘10: I think women's sexuality is so often for public consumption—plastered on billboards, in yogurt commercials, music videos. I appreciate it when a display of female sexuality is on her own terms.

Gate: What is the strongest message you take away from the play?

Genevieve Guilfoile: Love yourself, love who you are, love your body—which is a beautiful and empowering thing that people from any race, culture, religion, ability, or sexual orientation can relate to on some level. Everybody has had an interaction with a vagina at some point in his or her life. And every woman has had some experience—whether it be positive, negative or indifferent—when it comes to her vagina. These experiences are important to talk about.

Gate: Why is it important to continue producing this play and bringing it to audiences?

Kaitlyn Krauskopf: Despite the feminist progress made through the ages, the vagina remains shrouded in so much mystery and shame! It's often seen as something separate and taboo, when it is so much a part of ourselves that begs to be explored! The Vagina Monologues brings the vagina's true beauty and power to the forefront, as well as exposes the trauma and atrocity that many vaginas have been subjected to. The play makes all women conscious of their vaginas as sources of energy, humor, power and knowledge; and it's our job to keep showing women that through coming to know our vaginas, we can come to know ourselves.

Lauren Kaelin: There is a level of exposure that is necessary, but more than that, a feeling of commonality and community—there are still untold, unwritten and unperformed stories and The Vagina Monologues acknowledges that.

Gate: What might you guess people will gain by attending the Smith production of The Vagina Monologues?

Esther Mobley: Gain a better perspective on what it means to be a female after watching this play. Nothing quite like walking a mile in another's vagina—er, shoes—to understand where she's coming from!


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