“The Vagina Monologues,” Eve Ensler’s iconic feminist play, was presented for the 16th year in a row at Eastern Michigan University Feb. 9-11. Ensler was inspired by a collection of thousands of interviews she conducted with women.
This year's EMU show was produced by the Women’s Resource Center and performed by female students and community members of different races, backgrounds and ages.
“This is my fifth time being involved in the production,” said Julie Klein, EMU senior and social work major. “Seeing women finally able to get out there and own their anatomy is so powerful, and this year, it’s especially relevant politically.”
The play’s varied monologues don’t shy away from addressing topics such as sexuality, sexual violence, anatomical discoveries and more, challenging the audience to embrace the title word, and related subjects, that are normally “taboo.”
There were clearly some performers who were inexperienced actors, though their occasional physical awkwardness did not overshadow their bravery when speaking the controversial and sometimes explosive narratives.
“I always wanted to be up there,” said Simone Tisder, who narrated the play. “I have saw the show before, but I never felt like I could do it. It’s inspiring to be with a group of women trying to get the message of empowerment across.”
There were two ASL interpreters, sometimes blending in seamlessly with the actor they were interpreting and sometimes becoming an equal part of the action.
All of the monologues or performances were moving, but there were a few standouts. “The Flood,” about an older woman’s troubles and discoveries relating to her "down there," as she called it, was told in both a touching and hilarious way by Julie Klein and Rowan Blaisdell. In addition, Kristen Hudecz’s fiery “Reclaiming C*nt” eventually had the whole audience shouting the C word with her.
Katie Ebersole’s poignant “Because He Liked To Look At It” told the story of a woman who "had a good experience with a man." In particular, Jasmine McAlister’s euphoric, bold performance of “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy,” about a sex worker that loved the sounds she could bring out of women, brought down the house.
Even though the show touched on some, well… touchy subjects, none of it was cringe-worthy or crass; instead, it was beautiful, empowering, moving and easy to relate to. It was a peaceful call-to-arms, uniting vagina-owners on common ground.
“We need to embrace women, because they give the world life,” said Tisder.