Vagina Monologues drops jaws and raises awareness

Erin McGroarty/ Sun Star Reporter
April 17, 2012

The cast of the 2012 Vagina Monologues gathers for a quick shot before their second and last performance on the evening on Saturday, April 14, 2012. Back row from L-R: Melissa Buchta, Rachel Blackwell, Amy Lee Linam, Janelle Sweeny, Amber Shoemaker, Jennifer Eskridge, and Tiana Hanson. Front row from L-R: Teri Anderson, Hannah Hadaway, and Thalia Jacobs. Photo provided by Tiana Hanson.

An enthusiastic audience filled the auditorium in the UAF Reichardt building to see “The Vagina Monologues” April 13. This audience, made up of annual attendants and eager newbies, cheered as the cast of 10 women stepped out on stage to guide the audience through a series of monologues written to enlighten and inform women and men of all ages.

Comfortable chairs, looking like they would be more at place in a cozy living room, lined up across the makeshift stage at the bottom of the auditorium. At 7:30 p.m., a group of 10 women sat in the chairs.

“The Vagina Monologues” is a theatrical performance by Tony-Award-winning playwright Eve Ensler, and performed in Fairbanks every spring by a cast solely made up of women.

Ensler created the theatrical performance to raise awareness of women’s issues,  ranging from self realization to societal constraints to brutal mental and physical abuse. Each year, every cent of the performances’ proceeds support the Interior Alaska Center for Non-Violent Living.

This year’s performance included 17 monologues. Some monologues were performed by one actress, while others included anywhere from two actresses to the whole cast of ten. During the 90-minute performance, the audience showed responses ranging from laughter to tears.

“It was delightful, inspiring and extremely welcoming to men, which in the past has been a problem with the show,” said Sam Misra, a UAF student double majoring in biology and theater, “I have a great time every year.”

The topics of the monologues ranged from initiation of young girls into womanhood to disturbing sexual assault. The first monologue chronicled an interview with a 72-year-old woman who had been celibate since her early 20s. This interview began with the woman acting guarded, feeling wrong about discussing the subject in such a free-form manner. 

By the end of the monologue, the elderly woman came to a self realization. It was inspiring to see Janelle Sweeny act out the shift in attitude from an old woman who was embarrassed and shy, to a much stronger old woman who was sure of herself and her past life decisions.

The emotions of every monologue shifted dramatically within the cast as well as the audience. Jennifer Eskridge, whose daughter Thalia Jacobs was also in the cast, had the audience hysterically laughing during her monologue regarding a female lawyer’s life of wide-ranging sexual experiences, while UAF student Hannah Hadaway brought many audience members to tears with her monologue describing the first-hand experience  of a Bosnian woman who had been repeatedly raped by soldiers in her younger years.

“It was kind of embarrassing being up on stage with my mom given how different our monologues were,” said Jacobs, a young first-year cast member and a student at West Valley High School, “but being part of this experience was still really great.”

Other monologues included poetry full of joy and realization, anger and frustration regarding the social constructs of women in the 21st century and women’s medical care.

The evening was full of raw emotion and inspiration that left the crowded audience showing their pleasure and enjoyment with a standing ovation. 

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *