Painted portraits of vaginas hung behind the dancer, Colleen Murphy, as she graced the stage with flexibility and beauty in which silenced the audience in the Student Center Auditorium earlier this month.
Presented by Eastern Michigan University’s Women’s Resource Center, Murphy’s dance performance was the opening number in the 15th annual production of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues.
For 15 years, the Women’s Resource Center has hosted the performance of Eve Ensler’s episodic play and in addition raised $100,000 in donations to the anti-violence organizations, Safe House in Ann Arbor and First Step in Wayne County from admission proceeds.
The play is popular in raising awareness and voices of women through the reflection of monologues in the performance.
The director of the show, Shaelyn Saffer, a senior Communications and Theater Arts Major, use to perform in the production in its previous years, but in her final year at EMU she was able to direct.
“It has been a lot more personally impactful and obviously it comes with a little more work and stress,” she said. “But it was definitely a lot more like being able to see how many people you can draw into this yourself and how many people you can impact.”
In the monologue, “My Angry Vagina,” EMU performers Tatiana Rodriguez, Hanna Dudzik, and Tammie Williams brought laughter as they sat together at a table discussing the pains of tampons and the horror of pap smears. They were natural in conversation and interactive with the audience, which made it believable that they were angry about the issues concerning vaginas and that we had to hear it.
In “My Vagina Was My Village,” Chase Anderson and Autumn Vitale brought a more serious tone with the story of a Bosnian woman who was raped as a systematic tactic of war. It was poetic in how the voices of the two actresses recounted the horror of being raped and about their village being invaded as separate distinct voices.
There were other noteworthy performances such as “Reclaiming Cunt” where Cherub Thomas excited the crowd in the word cunt which further led to the cast coming out of the audience and on to the stage chanting “cunt” and holding picket signs. Another was “Wear and Say” where Chase Anderson, Kelsey Booth and Hannah Brenneman presented the many items a vagina would wear such as a tutu, a bikini and high heels. It turned into a fashion show where the cast modeled the list of clothing mentioned by the speakers.
The highest moment in the production though was the monologue, “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy” where Jo Cook shined and created the longest laughs. She humorously gave the audience a glimpse of the different kinds of moans she enjoys hearing while wearing nothing but a sex outfit. She included a Justin Bieber moan and college student moan that fit well in the scene.
From long nights of rehearsals, Darcy King, a performer in the show, said that the cast got to get to know each other well and have created chemistry and a bond.
“All the chemistry and bonds come out on stage,” she said. “And when the audience feels it and engages with us it’s like a holy interactive engaging performance.”
Hanna Dudzik, one of the performers, enjoyed performing in the Vagina Monologues and using her voice to tell the story of a character.
“I think it’s an important stepping stone within feminism,” she said. “It’s great to be able to perform in. It’s so relevant and so great for women everywhere.”