‘Vagina Monologues’ reacts to Kilworth relocation
This spring, on the weekend before Valentine’s Day, The School of Music Opera Theatre will perform Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” in Schneebeck Concert Hall. However, the timing and location of this production has recently caused some controversy due to the fact that in previous years Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” has been performed in Schneebeck on that weekend.
The timing of the “Monologues” is not random. Many organizations that produce “The Vagina Monologues” do so in concurrence with V-day (Feb. 14), according to senior Hallie Conyers, who has both acted in and directed the “Monologues.” The V-day movement is a “global activist movement to end violence against women and girls,” (vday.org).
Each year, the University’s production of “The Vagina Monologues” includes between 30 and 50 students. It is all-inclusive, allowing everyone who auditions to get a part. Men are invited to participate as well, however per the rules for performing the “Monologues,” they are not allowed to perform because, as Conyers put it, “they don’t have vaginas.”
According to Conyers, the relatively large cast is “already a huge logistical nightmare without having to find a space to use.”
“The Pirates of Penzance” will also feature a large cast consisting of 37 students, as well as the University’s orchestra, according to Dr. Dawn Padula who will act as stage director/producer for the Opera. Professor Denes Van Parys will act as musical director and Professor Gerard Morris will conduct the orchestra for the production.
“We decided upon the…dates last spring considering the orchestra’s entire season while we were putting together the School of Music calendar for the year,” Padula said.
While the scheduling conflicts themselves have caused stress for Conyers and those involved in “The Vagina Monologues,” Conyers felt that the whole situation points to “a disconnect between the administration’s priorities and the priorities for women on this campus.”
Partially, Conyers believed, this is due to the fact that the “Monologues” are entirely student run, and until last year, were student funded as well.
With no connections to the theatre department or any academic department, those involved in the “Monologues” are essentially left to fend for themselves, though they are associated with the Vulva Anti-Violence Association (VAVA).
“We are the only ones, to my knowledge, who have said anything about this…no one is saying anything about the fact that women just got shoved off the schedule,” senior Megan Chambers, a theatre minor and Vagina Monologues enthusiast who has previously acted in the production, said.
For Conyers the monologues are important because they bring a “new side…to thinking about women, and women’s rights, everyone’s rights, really.”
“I love The Vagina Monologues, I think it’s such a cool mixture of…political statement and theater…you just don’t see that very often,” Chambers said.
This personal investment in “The Vagina Monologues” contributed to Conyers and Chamber’s frustration over this year’s scheduling conflicts.
“Part of [the issue] is about women’s rights…we get to hear about penises all the time…the moment women start to talk about their vagina…people flip their s***…I’m tired of the double standard…it’s not jut about genitalia, it’s about other things that are okay to talk about when it comes to men that women are supposed to keep to themselves…‘The Vagina Monologues’ is our weekend of the year when we get to get out and shout about vaginas…I just think that’s really awesome,” Chambers said.
“I’ve spent so much time being mad…but now we’re moving forward,” Conyers said. As of Oct. 12, “The Vagina Monologues” will be performed in Kilworth Chapel. Conyers and others are positive about this new development.
“I’m super stoked, I think this will be really cool,” Conyers said.
PHOTO COURTESY / MARIA SOKOVA