For the tenth year in a row, the women of the USF College Players are performing “The Vagina Monologues.” The play attempts to erase the taboo and awkward-ness often surrounding the female anatomy. Written by Eve Ensler in 1996, “The Vagina Monologues” is a set of eleven anecdotes about women and their experiences of their lady parts from childbirth to rape. Performed from Feb. 11, 12 and 13 in the Presentation Theater, this longstanding Valentine’s Day tradition is part of a campaign to end violence against women all across the globe. On Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. there will be a panel discussion given by USF professors as well as those working directly on the performance.
A major goal of the performance is to teach the public about the hardships women face. After 10 years running the same show, the cast and crew still feel dedicated to participate. Director Julianne Fawsitt said, “Until women are in a political position to do something about violence against females, the show will still be relevant.” So far, the audience agrees. Every year men and women fill the seats. Fathers, brothers and boyfriends are all present. Some of them are not there by choice. “One year the entire basketball team was forced to come,” Fawsitt said. “They all sat in the back awkwardly, but sometimes that’s the point, to make people feel uncomfortable.”
As embarrassing as it might feel sitting in the audience, the cast members spend their nights shouting to a room full of strangers about the most private parts of women. Alex Platt, a senior Media Studies student, has been involved in the show since her freshman year. “The awkwardness is the first to go,” she said. The cast starts rehearsing three or four weeks before the show starts for four hours a day so they get to know each other fast.
In such a female-centric group, one might assume it would be full of drama and gossip. However, these ladies try to keep it drama free. When trying to empower women, pettiness only distances the actresses from their goal. Instead they pull together to form a type of sisterhood that encourages girls to say the hard things and support each other. The V-Day sisters are their own therapy group. “Things that you thought were really weird about yourself, you learn it’s not,” said Platt.
Most of the women working on The Vagina Monologues have all seen it performed, worked as stage managers or been on stage delivering the monologues at some point in their college careers. “Initially, the issue [of violence] is what draws girls to want to be involved” said producer Meg Tomasetti. “But they stay for the bonds they make,” said Fawsitt.
Members of the cast keep in touch with each other, return to USF for the show as alumni, donate toward the campaign and even end up running the entire production. Fawsitt graduated last year.
“Girls from the show are still my role models. We are a network of feminism,” said Platt. The show is as much about learning and empowerment for the audience as it is for the Players.
The group has ground rules to maintain their supportive environment. No men are allowed anywhere near the monologues. They are even supposed to stay as far away from the technical labor. “We want this to be a performance that showcases women as much as possible,” said Fawsitt.
Along with the no boys allowed rule, in order to run the show lawfully, the V-Day organization requires ten percent of the proceeds to aid women of the Dominican Republic of Congo. Tomasetti noted that the other ninety percent will be donated to local women’s organizations, although they have not been finalized yet. If all of the criteria are met, each institution performing the show receives the scripts for free, with eleven predetermined monologues and the 12th monologue chosen by individual directors.
Upon first hearing about The Vagina Monologues, many people think that it is a show for women or that it is a place for them to vent and share stories. In fact it is just as important for men to see and understand the monologues. “Women can only do so much in preventing violence, at some point men have to be involved, too,” said Platt.