Vagina Monologues Returns with Cheryl Strayed in the Cast
This year, the Women Resource Center at PCC will be putting on Eve Ensler’s play “The Vagina Monologues” for the annual V-Day production. Though these annual plays have been taking places for nearly 20 years at PCC, this year’s will be unlike any other as the cast will feature a celebrity guest: Cheryl Strayed, author of the 2012 New York Times’ best selling book Wild.
Traci Boyle from the women’s resource center will be organizing The Vagina Monologues. She calls the play “empowering, exciting, energizing,” and adds enthusiastically, “This year we’re especially excited to have Cheryl Strayed.”
The Vagina Monologues is essentially a vivid look into the obstacles, struggles, and successes that women encounter in their every day lives. Boyle calls it “a compilation of what it means to be a woman. And there is a strong message of wanting to end violence against women.” Themes of birthing, abuse, sexuality, and other aspects of a woman’s life are portrayed through several monologues that make up the play.
The first production of The Vagina Monologues at PCC was organized by Debra Evand in 1998. PCC was the first community college in America to produce the play.
“Most community colleges still don’t do stuff like this, but Debra was determined,” says Boyle.
That first year the play was advertised as just “V Monologues.” Evand protested against this censorship, and it has been advertised as The Vagina Monologues ever since then. Many people become uncomfortable about the word vagina being in the title. Even the play’s coproducer Stephanie Harvey admits the first time she heard of the play, she thought to herself “this is so weird” before she became more familiar with the cause. But Boyle assures us both the presence of the word vagina in the play’s title, and the content of the play serve a very important purpose, even if they make anyone uncomfortable. “We all learn from each other’s stories,” she says, “even if we don’t want to hear them.”
Each year a new “spotlight monologue” is added to The Vagina Monologues based off an area of the world in which women are suffering. One year, the spotlight monologue was about women affected by Hurricane Katrina. Another year it was women in New Orleans. This year’s spotlight monologue will be announced in December.
Every year, 10% of PCC’s production proceeds go to local agencies that protect women from sexual and domestic violence in whatever area of the world the spotlight monologue was based off. All together, $100,000 have been raised from previous Vagina Monologues productions.
Aside from Cheryl Strayed’s exciting participation, another reason this year’s play will be extra exciting is because first the first time, all people with vaginas will be represented in the play. There was a discussion among staff about the exclusion of people with vaginas who identify as transgender, gender fluid, nonbinary, or any other gender besides female. This year, PCC has collaborated with TransActions to make a booklet about trans identity issues that will be available at the production.
The Vagina Monologues is more than just an informative play – it is also a project that takes a community of progressive people and brings them together in a safe space where they can work together to change the world.
Co-producer Harvey has described her time working on The Vagina Monologues as “having a sense of belonging with this whole other community. It was very empowering to me. With finals and stress, it’s something that pushes me along the term.”
Boyle agrees that Vagina Monologues is an empowering experience to both those involved in putting on the production, and those who attend it. “People are disheartened by the state of the world,” Boyle explains. “[Vagina Monologues] is a way to be a part of something positive.”
“The Vagina Monologues” will be performed February 16 and 17 at the Sylvania Performing Arts Center. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line VM
ADDITION Nov 28. Traci Boyle Galestiantz sent out an email to the staff this morning regarding casting for the performance. Here is what she wrote:
The Sylvania WRC is a place of constant learning and growth- we have learned a lot in the past several weeks about inclusivity and gender justice!!
We have heard your concerns and have reexamined our mission around our 2018 Benefit Production of The Vagina Monologues.
As the production team, we have decided that our original stance on cast eligibility would not best support our community, our mission as a production team, or the message of the play. Thus, we have decided to open auditions to all people affiliated with PCC who are women (cis or trans), non binary, and/ or AFAB (assigned female at birth).
We sincerely apologize for any harm that our original casting decisions may have caused and we appreciate those that took the time and energy to express their concerns.
Lastly, we encourage anyone who identifies as any of the above to consider auditioning if they are interested!
There will be more auditions taking place tomorrow (11/29) from 3-5 and Thursday (11/30) from 2-5 in the WRC. Please stop on by and or email me to sign up for a time slot!