“I’m worried about vaginas, what we call them and don’t call them.” – Eve Ensler
This article was originally published for The Odyssey on February 21, 2017.
When most people step out of their comfort zones, they start small. If someone receives anxiety from working out at the gym, they may only go late at night. Small, like, taking a hike when you’re not a fan of nature, or submitting to a publication even though you’ve never written before. Not small like feeling uncomfortable talking about sexual assault and genitals and then auditioning for ‘The Vagina Monologues’. Except, that’s exactly what how I started the diaspora from my comfort zone and became involved with the play. Here’s my experience in the wonderful show that is ‘The Vagina Monologues’.
Last year, when I was a freshman, I was stopped in my university’s dining hall by a man who happened to be selling chocolate vaginas. You heard that right; he was selling little chocolates that were shaped like vaginas. I was instantly intrigued because you don’t just sell chocolate shaped like things unless you’re trying to make a point. He was promoting a play titled ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and informed me that ticket sales and choco-vagina sales would benefit the Women’s Center on campus. I immediately bought a ticket and a baggy of chocolates.
When I went to the show, however, I had no clue what I was about to see on that stage. With the auditorium fairly packed, and my two friends on either side of me, we prepared for the show, which turned out to be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen live.
At first, the play made famous by Eve Ensler was funny and quirky. There were some dirty jokes, some F-bombs, some vulgarities, but I was entertained, to say the least. The first act was full of giggles and gasps when we couldn’t believe the actors said such things, and then we couldn’t believe we had laughed at such things.
The second act was more powerful than anything I’ve ever seen on stage before. As someone who appreciates theater with all her heart, I was honestly blown away at how influential the second act of the production was. The topics were uncomfortably incredible; they were raw, emotional and heartbreaking. There was power laced in each monologue on that stage that night. I left the theater feeling some type of way, yet I couldn’t explain just how I felt. The performance of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ was so emotionally enriching that I couldn’t believe how impact-full such a raw and blunt performance like that could be.
Sophomore year rolled around, and so did the auditions for this year’s performance of the play that had blown my mind just a year before. I somehow convinced my best friend to audition with me, and we hiked to the Women’s Center to cold read some monologues and eat some complimentary tootsie rolls. Though the giant felt vagina on the wall intimidated my best friend, it only excited me more. I couldn’t believe I had an opportunity to be a part of something so powerful, so meaningful, so real.
As soon as auditions concluded, I found myself with three other women in the group read for ‘The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could’. My family laughed when I told them the name, but I kind of dug it. Coochie snorcher has a nice ring to it, and it sure as hell sounds a lot cooler than vagina.
I was granted the parts of memories 10 and 13-years-old, which consisted of some pretty graphic language, a tale of child molestation and the guilt that follows the child later in life. With the women in my monologue, I was able to help tell a raw story with a happy ending. The story is written to shine the light on homeless women and the amount that report having been sexually assaulted, molested and harassed in their lifetimes, specifically before the age of eighteen in our case.
You would think that the atmosphere and the energy surrounding the production would be dark and gloomy, or at the very least intense, based on the blunt content of the show. It is the exact opposite, and it’s wonderful. There is so much positive energy both on stage and off-stage, both contributed by the cast and crew.
The cast members are all so nice to one another, and all of us are so different; we all come from different walks of life. There are mothers, professors, grandmothers, undergraduate students and graduate students. There are so many different ethnic groups and identities involved, that we truly capture the empowerment and equality that lies in the feminism presented in this production. You couldn’t have asked for a better environment to perform in.
I am truly honored to have played these parts with the ladies in the Coochie Snorcher in the Shippensburg University 2017 production of ‘The Vagina Monologues’. Though I took a head-first dive into the outside of my comfort zone, I know now that it was totally worth it.
Thank you to my best friend for taking this scary jump with me. Thank you to my cast-mates, who showed me that there doesn’t have to be drama in every show on stage. I’d also like to give a huge shout-out to my dad, who came to the show alone and totally embraced the beauty of it. If you came out to see the 2017 ‘Vagina Monologues,’ thank you. Thank you for supporting the Shippensburg University Women’s Center and Women’s Centers in the area.
Finally, a huge thank you to our director, who truly worked her butt off in order to make this production the best it could be. She never gave up on any of us, and she continued to make sure we were all comfortable and confident. A fantastic show couldn’t exist without a fantastic director, and for that, we are so grateful.