Monologues Spreads Message of Self-Appreciation
The Vagina Monologues, a play by Eve Ensler, was
first produced 13 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
, 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. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in John M. Greene
Hall. The focus of this year's production is on the women
of Haiti, says co-producer Camilla Claiborn, "who continue
to experience gender violence in the wake of last year's
earthquake, and who are doing amazing humanitarian
work of their own."
Ticket proceeds will benefit
a shelter in Amherst for women and children in abusive
Claiborn and co-producer
Genevieve Guilfoile responded to questions about
Gate: How does
participating in The Vagina Monologues change or strengthen
your attitudes toward yourself as a woman?
Claiborn ’11: Over my three years of involvement
in The Vagina Monologues—first as a cast
member, now as co-director and co-producer—I have become
more comfortable and confident talking about women's issues
that we so frequently ignore. I have looked around at the
extraordinary casts and crews involved in the play and
have gained strength from their commitment and dedication
to this movement.
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.
Gate: What is the
strongest message you take away from the play?
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.
Camilla Claiborn: Be
proud of women's experiences, whether they are painful ones
that have led to moments of despair, or happy, hilarious,
or outrageous ones that have led to joy. Everyone has had
a different experience of what it means to be a woman, and
through our performance of The Vagina Monologues we
hope to engage audience members in a critical thinking process
about female identity.
Why is it important to continue producing
this play and bringing it to audiences?
Camilla Claiborn: I
believe that this play provides a rare glimpse into women's
lives and lived experiences, and it continues to be relevant
even now, several years after its creation. We tell these
stories because we know how important it is to listen and
to open the dialogue about women's sexuality, which is so
frequently hidden and ignored.
What might people gain
by attending the Smith production of The
Camilla Claiborn: It
is my hope that, by attending The Vagina Monologues at
Smith, audience members will feel more comfortable discussing
and thinking about the issues in this play that affect women
and women's sexuality. The show is sad, happy, entertaining,
pensive, hilarious, personal, and ultimateluy different for
every person watching, which is what I truly love about this