Kim Corona firstname.lastname@example.org
Last Saturday, Peer Advocates and Breakaway Productions hosted a benefit production of the play “The Vagina Monologues” written by American playwright and activist Eve Ensler.
The monologues inspired Ensler to create “V-Day” a global activist movement to end gun violence against women and girls.
The monologues are comprised of various personal monologues from diverse groups of women stemming from their own experiences.
Over a dozen student actors read the short monologues that shared the real experiences of women and their feelings towards having a vagina, including aspects of feminine experience. Many of these included sex, body image, menstruation, female genital mutilation, masturbation, birth, and orgasm.
This year, the monologues were directed by sophomore Jessica Celli and juniors Shura McCartin and Gabby DeMelfi.
For their directorial debut, McCartin reflected on her first-time experience and how auditions played out for the production.
“For determining who would be the best fit for each monologue we held auditions and from there Jess, Gabby, and I discussed who we thought would be a good fit for each one based on how their auditions went,” she said.
The directors had the various female students read short excerpts from the selected monologues. Then, depending how they performed, directors decided if the actors kept the monologue they auditioned with or asked them to read a different one to see if it would be a better fit.
McCartin continued, “We wanted it less traditional and didn’t turn anyone away because just by showing up we knew that our performers were showing an interest in being a part of V-Day and wanted to be part of the movement.”
Student director Gabby DeMelfi said the monologues have been her favorite experience at Ursinus. She’s been part of the production, as an actor, since her freshman year but this year was her first time behind the scenes. “Having been a part of this production before, I had a general idea going into this what I was looking for each piece. It’s hard, really, to describe exactly how I knew who I wanted for each part, it was just a feeling,” she said.
She continued to explain how she came up with her directorial decisions for the actors.“For directing each monologue, I started by having each person read their monologue to me to see how they interpreted their monologue without the influence of my direction. After they read the monologue, I would give them notes on how I envisioned the piece and how the piece is typically meant to be performed and had them take those notes into account while they read,” she said.
An important factor to remember about the monologues is the stories and experiences of different women.
Although student actors had the opportunity to perform the monologues of others, it’s crucial to provide the proper representation of the stories.
“I wanted to make sure we kept true to the monologues as they weren’t the performers’ story. I knew there was a fine line between acting and delivering someone else’s story, and I didn’t want to cross it,” said McCartin. Junior Maddy Wert, who performed for two consecutive years, discussed her performance of “Because He Like to Look At It”.
“I didn’t find it too difficult because I could relate to the piece that I was performing. I had felt similar emotions as she did, or how I think she did, and it just felt like a special bond between me, the author and the piece,” she said.
She continued,“I love performing, especially something that has a moral or message as powerful as the Vagina Monologues.”
Another student actor, Myla Haan, reflected on being part of the production for three years.
“Year after year, this production creates a wonderful bond between the performers, even if it’s just for one night, that’s just empowering to be a part of,” she said.