Maddie Murphy wants her audience to know vaginas aren’t weird.
The junior social work major performed in “Vagina Monologues” last Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the Underground of the Student Center. The Wellness Resource Center produces the play annually to raise awareness for feminist issues, like domestic violence and reproductive health.
Since about a month ago, 30 cast members, two directors, a producer and a tech team have all met twice a week to rehearse the production before it opened last weekend.
“It gives women an opportunity to discuss an important part of their lives that aren’t really talked about,” Murphy said.
This was Murphy’s second year being part of the cast, and in comparison to last year’s “Vagina Monologues,” Murphy said she noticed fewer theater majors were involved in this year’s production.
Both Murphy and co-director Riley MacDonald, a senior women’s studies major, said the lack of theater majors in the cast adds another dimension to the production. The actors aren’t as experienced, so they rely more on the raw emotion naturally created by the monologues and less on their backgrounds in theater.
Co-director Molly Driscoll said she hasn’t been involved in any form of theater since high school. She decided to get involved with “Vagina Monologues” because it helps start a discussion about women’s issues.
“People are afraid to talk about sex,” the senior public health major said. “A production like this lightens that conversation and makes it more appealing.”
“The show was made for women to find empowerment through the reclamation of a body part that seems to be taboo,” said freshman voice performance major and cast member Olivia Broderick.
MacDonald said “Vagina Monologues” gives women a “voice and platform to speak,” especially because the monologues featured in the play aren’t fictional—each story is based on author Eve Ensler’s interviews with real women.
“In so many spaces, women’s voices are silenced,” Broderick said. “In this space, they no longer have to hide.”
Broderick’s monologue, “My Vagina Was My Village,” describes the experiences of women in a Bosnian refugee camp who were assaulted by soldiers.
Broderick couldn’t directly relate to the story she told, but she said her monologue was about more than being accessible.
“The monologues are about elevating the experiences above your own, and understanding what your piece is about,” she said.
Those involved with the production are aware that acceptance of women’s bodies will take longer to develop than just 90 minutes, the length of the production. But the cast hopes that “Vagina Monologues” could start this process for some of the audience members, and even the cast.
“The amount of energy every woman put into this performance made it powerful,” said senior psychology major and previous cast member Cayla Byrnes.
Freshman nursing major and cast member Galya Kolodner said the show is helping her become more comfortable with the overall discussion of women’s bodies, including her own.
“Where else can you talk about vaginas?” Kolodner said. “When it comes to this discussion, there shouldn’t be a barrier.”
Producer Janie van der Toorn, a master’s student in public health, said the most important aspect of the show is its relatability.
“It was created by one person, but it’s applicable to any woman, regardless of race or orientation.”
Paula Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.