Monologues celebrate women’s lows, highs

By Jennifer Abreu

It may be hard for some, especially men, to understand why women anticipate Valentine’s Day so much. But there are other, more sensitive and personal questions that men find hard to answer when it comes to, well, women.

UK will perform “The Vagina Monologues” on Saturday and Sunday at the Worsham Theater to answer some of these questions.

A play that debuted in 1996, “The Vagina Monologues” consists of monologues that portray the lows and highs women have with their vaginas.

The monologues were written by Eve Ensler with the intention to make women feel more comfortable with their bodies and, most importantly, raise awareness about violence and abuse against women.

With about 15 distinct acts, the play talks about light, comic subjects such as love, sex and appearance; to heavier, more sensitive challenges, such as rape and abuse.

“Some monologues are happier, portraying love and pleasure,” said elementary education major Eriauna Stratton. the show’s producer this year. “Others are sad, including rape and other things we don’t usually talk about as a society.”

“The Vagina Monologues” not only talks about vaginas, but is also helping protect them and the women they belong to.

The production is part of the V-Day initiative — a worldwide campaign that takes place between Feb. 12 and April 30 to raise awareness about and prevent violence against women.

Through various events, V-Day benefits institutions like the Rape Crisis Center and other resource centers for women in their respective communities.

This year’s production at UK will benefit Voices for Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood of Kentucky.

The production is also participating in Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine Program, where used cellphones are given to victims of domestic violence. “The Vagina Monologues” encourage the audience to contribute to their efforts.

Those who plan to attend will have three opportunities to do so: Saturday at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Director Maggie Howell said “The Vagina Monologues” is more than just a production.

“Directing ‘The Vagina Monologues’ is different from (directing) any other play. It’s not about the production, it’s about the message we want to get out there,” Howell said.

Howell said that the author instructs actors on how the message should be delivered and even how the show should be directed.

“When directing, Ensler tells you to think like an activist, not like a director,” Howell explained.

Howell said the show will not only be entertaining, but will bring to the audience a valuable lesson.

“You’ll learn a little about what women go through, not just here, but around the world,” she said. “The monologues bring up topics that we usually don’t hear about, how women are mistreated and we need to be aware of it.”

Stratton said she expects a diverse crowd.

“I think the title brings people in because of curiosity. We are expecting a larger female crowd, but definitely some men,” Stratton said.

Stratton said she hopes the male audience will gain a better understanding of female conflicts.

“We want them to be entertained and hopefully they will be able to sympathize with the challenges women face,” she said.

The cast is composed of mostly actors from UK’s theater department, but some are from other colleges as well, Stratton said.

With 26 actresses, rehearsals have drawn the girls closer together, Howell said.

“It’s like a big group of sisters,” she added.

It is the first time Howell has directed a show by herself, she said. And the most memorable thing for her is to experience how diverse and talented UK campus is.

“We have girls from every walk of life, with different majors, who come from different places and they are all so talented.

There’s talent everywhere, and everyone has a little something they can give,” she said.

Howell said such passion and diversity has contributed to what the show is all about.

“The show is about women in every way,” she said.

Theater and English freshman Samantha West will be performing four of the monologues and said despite being apprehensive toward the title, she expects the audience to receive the play well.

“Once you see the performance element of it, it takes the words to a whole different place,” West said.

West suggests the audience come in with an open mind to enjoy this roller coaster ride.

“Sometimes you will laugh hysterically, others you might cry,” West said. “You might get angry; maybe even be shocked at the extent the actor will take the performance.”

Another actor, theater junior Britany Geoghegan said the show encourages women to take pride in their figures.

“The show is about women not being ashamed of who they are and what their bodies are like,” she explained.

Geoghegan’s piece is called “The Flood,” about a woman with past bad experiences who has replaced sex with other things she finds pleasurable.

“This piece is encouraging women to talk about these ‘bad’ experiences and get over what sometimes could have been embarrassing,” she said.

“The Vagina Monologues” may answer many questions about women and the relationship they have with their vaginas in an entertaining manner while bringing about a serious message.

“It’s not a regular show,” Howell said. “It’s a movement.”