SF State's annual Vagina Monologues production aims to entertain and inform
Due to the sell-out success of last year’s production under the direction of SF State senior Alyse Allain, Allain has returned to direct the show this year, with hopes of similar results. The production will feature three new monologues, adding to the drama and relevance the play.
“Honestly, I think it’s the most educating play I’ve ever read or seen,” said Allain. “For men and women alike, I just think it’s something so important to watch, because it really opens your eyes to things that a lot of people were probably closed off to at some point.”
The newest piece in the play, added after production had already begun, is called “Over It.” Originally written as an article for the Huffington Post by the play’s creator Eve Ensler late last year, it’s about women speaking out against rape and the culture that surrounds it. Allain calls the monologue controversial, particularly in its statements regarding politics.
“We call out Herman Cain, and how he continued to run for president even after four women came forward with allegations that he groped them, and how America wasn’t outraged that someone who had done that to women was still running for president,” said actress Candace Geiger.
To take the monologue up another notch, Allain cast Geiger as the main speaker in “Over It,” but distributed lines to each member of the cast, making it a captivating ensemble piece.
“People think that it doesn’t happen when it’s like a daily basis. Women are getting raped, and not just in America, but all over the world, and we never hear about it!” said Geiger.
Therein lies the message of The Vagina Monologues: these things need to be discussed, whether it’s a comfortable subject or not. The second new monologue, called “What if I Told You I Didn’t Have a Vagina,” brings to light the shocking subject of vaginal mutilation, a real problem that women and girls are facing to this day.
“I feel like so many of these issues are overlooked,” said actress Aisha Khan, a third-year linguistics major. “How many people realize that a billion women have been raped in the world? How many people realize that 130 million women and girls have had female genital mutilation acted on them?”
But while the issues are serious, The Vagina Monologues are meant to entertain as well as inform. The third new monologue, “For My Sisters in PortauPrinceBukavuNewOrleans,” is a slam-poetry style monologue dedicated to the women of Haiti.
Still, the title of the play alone may seem daunting to both men and women. It has received criticism for portraying men as the enemy, but the cast insists that they don’t mean to alienate anyone.
“We’re not doing it to attack anybody or bash anyone, but to educate people,” said grad student and actress Kim Davalos. “And all the ticket money goes to these different causes locally, on campus, in the city and globally, so you’re only helping if you come.”
The Vagina Monologues can be performed without having to purchase rights to the play as long as all ticket proceeds go to causes that combat violence against women. Some of the campus organizations supported are: the SAFE Place, EROS and the Sexual Health PEACH program.
The money raised by this production is helpful, but the awareness raised is invaluable as women continue to face attacks on their rights and bodies. It has been a learning experience for the cast as well, who have seen how openly discussing taboo subjects may help to change perceptions.
“It is very unique, and it’s very thought provoking and funny,” said actress Jessica Wretlind, a fourth-year literature major. “Its got a lot of light and dark tones to it, and it’s very empowering for a group of women to be able to talk about their sexuality with the good and the bad involved.”
The Vagina Monologues runs on April 4, 5 and 6 in Knuth Hall at 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are available at vendini.com.