Author: Tara Teets
On January 31 in the Carriage House, “The Vagina Monologues” cast partnered with student affairs to lead a Diversity Dialogue on the issues surrounding intersectionality, the concept that oppression can be connected and overlap, or lack thereof in the show.
The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play written by Eve Ensler and was first performed in 1996. The monologues touch on matters such as sex, love, rape and sexual assault, menstruation, female genital cutting, and birth.
Indigo Baloch, director of this year’s show, explained “When it comes to the Vagina Monologues, there are a lot of important things in it. But it’s also important to bring up the issues surrounding it.” She went on to say, “We can take things like this with problematic elements and see their worth with taking these elements into account.”
Indigo led the talk and noted which pieces include problematic elements. One overarching issue is that the auditions from the Chatham community did not reflect the diversity of the voices needed to play the parts. Therefore, some pieces will be read by individuals who have not experienced the oppression that the original writers have. One example is “The Vagina is My Village,” which is based on the stories of women who were victims of war crimes in Bosnia and Yugoslavia. Other pieces focus on the experiences of trans and non-binary folks, and there were no auditions from individuals who identify in this manner. Baloch explained, “We try to be intersectional as possible, but we can’t remove or change any of the monologues.”
The senior went on to focus on the issues the program brings about for the trans and non-binary community. “The Vagina Monologues owes it to [the non-binary] community to reach out to them,” she said.
“The Vagina Monologues,” has taken steps to include members of the trans community, and with pressure from performers, they may be willing to take more steps. Following the talk, the perception of the play still seemed to be positive. Aubrey Shombert explained, “I really like that we’re at least starting the conversation about the more problematic elements, while still acknowledging the positive elements.”
Baloch is working with Meghan Cooper and Bethany Brookout as co-directors.
The show will be on February 17 at Eddy Theater at 7pm. A reception including the Feminist Coalition, GirlUp, the Women’s Institute, and community partners such as Planned Parenthood and New Voices will follow.