Interviewing about 200 women, Vagina Monologues writer, Eve Ensler wrote the play that is now performed in locations all over the world and will be coming to East Carolina University tomorrow at 7 p.m in Wright Auditorium.
While the event is free, audience members are encouraged to bring donations to go to the Center for Family Violence Prevention. Ashley Cleland, associate director for the ECU Women and Gender Office and director of The Vagina Monologues, explains how impactful the donations can be.
“They can donate at the door, even a dollar helps. So many of the stories we are telling and so many of the stories of women in general involve some of the things that the Center for Family Violence Prevention prevents and responds to. They support people in our community, so it's important that we give back. So even if students can give a dollar, that really helps,” Cleland said.
All of the stories told on stage deal with topics such as violence against women, menstruation, sex work and more.
Senior animation major, Shayla Simons, producer of this year’s event, explained that it is important for society to talk about different subjects such as women’s experiences through their life, sexuality, and anything related to women.
“Someone may be hearing this, can find comfort in knowing that these things are not just explicit to them, other women go through it as well. It’s just a really nice play to put on to teach the community what it is to be a woman or female-identifying in today’s society,” Simons said.
The performance is entirely performed by the ECU community. Each year new faces and some returning ones put on the show. Cleland explained that by having different people perform every year, it “brings new life into the words.” Long time cast member and junior art major, Rose Bogue, explained that the Vagina Monologues got them involved at ECU and now is assistant director of the performance.
“The Vagina Monologues was what first got me involved in extracurriculars at ECU. My freshman year, I auditioned just because my English professor asked me to. For two years I performed as a monologist for the show and this year I figured it was time for the next step. Now I am the assistant director,” Bogue said.
This year’s Vagina Monologues will be performed as a staged reading as opposed to having cast members memorize a script. Cleland explained that it is a way to not stress out the monologists.
“One of the reasons for that is, historically, women’s identities have a higher mental load, so that means there are more things that women, statistically, are keeping track of in their brains than the average man,” Cleland said. “Statistically women worry or feel guilty seven to eight times a day and that says something big because the average for men is twice. So one of the reasons it is a staged reading is so we don’t add to that mental load.”
The Vagina Monologues allows for hundreds of women's stories to be told to impact and empower others. Cleland explained that the event is always looking for new cast members and generally holds auditions in the fall semester, has rehearsal's starting in the spring, and are encouraged to follow the women and gender office social media’s for updates on how to get involved. Bogue expressed how telling these stories can not only empower others but also the one reading it.
“The Vagina Monologues is a collection of real women's stories. The topics range from sex work to first love, with the common themes being vaginas and body image. When the cast performs the show, they are empowering not only the women whose stories this work is based on but also themselves,” Bogue said.