On the evenings of February 14 and 15 in the auditorium of Montgomery Hall 25, the student group of FUSE, Feminists United for Sexual Equality, hosted their annual production of The Vagina Monologues, a recital of various excerpts from Eve Ensler’s original play drafted in 1996. Every year around Valentines Day, a small group of about twenty students performs their own renditions of Ensler’s diverse soliloquies based on women of varying ages, backgrounds and feminine experiences, accompanied by the performances of the St. Mary’s co-ed a capella group, Interchorus.
Every year, the production seems to draw a crowd of both women and men eager to see the performances of their peers. The production begins with an introduction of the monologues as being a collection of interviews from women of all walks of life, slowly taking audiences through the throes of awkward “first times,” childbirth, and the tragedies of sexual abuse. Performed in the first person, these pieces seem to rope the audience into the most intimate perspectives of self-discovery and appreciation as a woman, whether they are indeed women or not.
One particularly gripping monologue is that of “The Little Coochie Snorcher that Could,” performed by sophomore Emi Petrillo. The monologue itself, though full of heartbreaking and cringe worthy moments, proves to be one of a woman’s triumphant recovery from sexual assault as a child. Through her lifetime of self-loathing and fear, she finally comes to love herself as an adult. “I honestly really love it,” said Petrillo of her monologue. “In a lot of ways I feel like I related to my character in the sense that loving your vagina is something that people have to learn.”
However this event is not only one of promoting a feminist awareness about women’s experiences, but also one of charity for local women in the community. This year’s proceeds from the performances were donated to Walden Sierra, a local nonprofit agency of Southern Maryland dedicated to mental health services and treatment for trauma. This alignment to Walden Sierra is just one of the many ways by which FUSE uses The Vagina Monologues to both help and entertain its audiences. Senior Emma Kaufman, President of FUSE, explains what she hopes to be the positive influence of the show and its opportunities to help the students who come out to see it.
“The Vagina Monologues is a safe space in which many taboo topics are touched on that are usually kept under wraps,” said Kaufman. “Not many people are aware of the healing benefits of discussing these issue, but that’s what makes the Monologues so important–they offer a venue for that healing and understanding to take place.”
Through the various soliloquies performed during The Vagina Monologues, both the performers and audience alike are taken on an emotional journey, with humorous and sobering elements along the way. The combination of theatrical performance, therapeutic moments, and the dedication to a good cause make the event one of the more interesting ones that come to this campus.