So what did you do this weekend? Catch a movie? Have a good time at Spankie’s? Me? I got initiated into a vagina warrior, compliments of my friends at the Backdoor Playhouse, of course.”The Vagina Monologues,” written by Eve Ensler, was directed and choreographed by Jennifer Dotson-Creter, along with co-choreographer Anthony Herd. The enjoyably explicit material ushered in hundreds of new vagina warriors as it sold out every show of its three-night span.
Attending the performance alone, I intended to let crowd comments and reactions unobtrusively sink in. Hoards of men and women swarmed into the playhouse ready to be entertained, ready to talk about vaginas.
I was pathetically lonely when I first sat down, but after Dotson-Creter conducted a communal moan among audience members in her opening comments, the atmosphere felt more like comrades than complete strangers. Even if I did hear the guy moan from my creative writing class last semester, I felt much more comfortable and open to discuss the undiscussable.
Conversations between women in a gynecologist’s office punctuated the monologues throughout the play. Each insight, whether comedic or poignant, opened the stage for the proceeding monologue.
The collection of monologues performed complemented each other to perfection. The cascade from hilarious to heartbreaking to uplifting stories left attendees feeling more like they just sat through the best therapy session of their life, instead of a college play.
Beginning with comedic pieces, viewers could relate uproars in audience enjoyment. Notable comedic pieces were “Angry Vagina” performed by Elizabeth Ayres, “Reclaiming C—” performed by Annaka Romine, and “The Woman Who liked to Make Vaginas Happy,” performed by Emily Smith and accompanied by the cast.
The play took on a more serious tone and addressed global issues of rape in Bosnian camps (“My Vagina was My Village” performed by Elaine Bak) and the sexual slavery during WWII by Japanese men (” Say It” performed by Eleni Fragopoulous). Actresses effectively transmitted the horrific content to the audience, but it was the accompanying dancers who hammered in a meaning stronger than the words themselves.
To bring the play to a close, ” I Was In The Room, “performed by Chessilyn Angel with support from the cast, illustrated Ensler’s viewpoint as she watched her granddaughter being born.
“The visuals are stunning, and the voices are passionate,” wrote Dotson-Creter in her director’s note of the play’s pamphlet. “The Vagina Monologues has the power to reach out, embrace others, and uplift us as individuals. I hope tonight’s production empowers you.”
That it did, influencing and sparking open conversation among women and men as they left the playhouse. Empowering people is about empowering people to talk, as was evident when audience members were invited to sit in on an open forum to question and comment with cast and crew on the production’s content.
When I left the theatre, I did not feel like the solitary audience member who had uncomfortably grabbed a seat by herself. I did not feel timid to say ( gasp) “vagina” or, hell, even let out a good moan for the sake of audience participation.
I felt part of something, something bigger than me or the playhouse itself. I was making a difference by listening, by being educated, by admitting these horrible things happen every day, every hour, to women around the world. I am part of a movement, a V-Day global movement to stop violence against women. I am aware. I am proud. I am a vagina warrior.