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A public play about a private part

REVIEW: The Vagina Monologues. One word in that title is almost guaranteed to be an eye-catcher. But the play grabbed just as much attention as well. Based on the book The Vagina Monologues, by Eve Ensler, the play was broken up into various monologues written from interviews with women about their most private area. Featuring topics that most people normally don’t discuss, such as gynecological appointments and feminine products, USF’s production of The Vagina Monologues, shown Friday, Feb. 18 through Sunday, Feb. 20, provided laughter and heartbreak about a body part that most people would never expect to be made into a play.

The monologues tackled subjects that both women and men never would have given a second thought. “My Vagina Was My Village” covered the topic of rape among women in Bosnia. Two cast members performed this piece; one talked about how wonderful it was to be a female while the other described her abuse in graphic detail. Female genital mutilation, or excision, was another subject brought onto the stage. “Not-So-Happy Fact” introduced the audience to this topic with the statistic that 130 million women in Africa were victim to this, as reported in April 1996 by The New York Times.

Most of the monologues were positive and humorous. “My Angry Vagina,” a crowd pleaser, rallied about feminine products and how they should be produced with more care in mind for women and their defining features. Another audience favorite, “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy,” was a monologue from a woman who was once a lawyer but became a “woman pleaser.” It focused on how women do not moan when they are enjoying themselves. The audience found this performance comical when the entire cast surrounded the audience and performed moaning noises along with a lone woman on the stage. Loud applause and cheering followed, along with the narrator crying, “God, I need a cigarette!” before introducing the next monologue.

The performance was in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center Ballroom on a small stage set up with paintings made by the cast members used as a backdrop.

The cast dressed in all black except for wearing synonyms for “vagina” in pink across their chests, each member sporting a different word. There were no props, save for the occasional chair.

The cast was made up of 18 females of varying ages who were very passionate about their roles and demonstrated the hard work they did through their individual performances. During a few of the monologues, the audience began to participate with the cast members, reciting lines and cheering with encouragement. The full-cast performances were the most entertaining because each woman had something unique about her character and appearance, whether it was the synonym on her shirt or the attitude she possessed.

Besides the great performance, there was a cause behind all of the effort. Two dollars from every ticket sold was donated to The Spring of Tampa Bay, a domestic violence shelter for adults and children. The Vagina Monologues also spawned V-Day, an organization created by Ensler to stop violence and abuse of women and children. The campaign encourages college students and volunteers to put on the play in hopes of raising awareness about violence towards women.

The play was put on by the Women’s Studies Graduate Student Organization at USF.