By AMANDA CIROCCO
For the last decade, Manhattanville College has designated a weekend in February to put on a student production of the award-winning play The Vagina Monologues. The show encompasses interviews of more than 200 women who celebrate their sexuality and speak up about issues that are not always discussed in public.
Amanda Sirakowski ’16 was the director of this year’s successful show that ran from February 19th to the 21st. In total, the show raised over $2,000, all of which was donated to Hope’s Door in Pleasantville, NY – a program that helps battered women get help onto the right track.
“I really liked the idea that everything went to Hope’s Door,” said Sirakowski. “We had a speaker come and talk to us about what their mission was.”
Sirakowski said it took almost nine months to arrange the show. The process began by signing up with the organization, Hope’s Door, in order to receive the rights to do the show, hold auditions, cast, promote, book spaces, design costumes, and fundraise.
“I’m amazed I was able to do everything, especially because I was doing it alone. Compared to other years, it was a lot more work, but that made the experience that much more rewarding,” said Sirakowski. “At the end of the run, I was able to say, I did this. I raised this money for these women.”
The passion for directing the show stems from her late cousin, Lauren, who was murdered in 2013. The loss of her cousin has connected Sirakowski to the show in immeasurable ways. It’s the biggest reason why Sirakowski wanted to direct the show.
Sirakowski’s cousin who was involved with the wrong people at the time had started going to an organization like Hope’s Door.
“She was starting to get her GED and going to counseling, so I liked the idea of being able to help someone who was helping, who would’ve helped my cousin” said Sirakowski.
The show represents “girl power and embracing things that people don’t like to talk about”. The show sold out 2 nights. They also allowed student-athletes to attend their dress rehearsal and see the performance first. It has become an event at Manhattanville that draws people outside of the community in order to learn more about the subject.
Sirakowski had only good things to say about her cast.
“They rocked. We had rehearsals once a week,” said Sirakowski. “A lot of the memorization was up to the cast to do on their own.”
She organized rehearsals and tried to make the process as fun and stress-free as possible over the few months that they had to prepare.
“At rehearsals, we were constantly laughing and goofing off, but we managed to put together a great show,” said Sirakowski. “We lost about ten people from start to finish for various reasons, and a lot of the girls in the cast stepped up last minute to take on more lines and bigger roles when I had people drop the show.”
“It was a very different experience from last year. The cast was pretty much doubled going from 25 people to around 45 this year,” said Breidenbach, who performed for her second year this past February.
“Vagina Monologues isn’t something I would normally do. It definitely broke me out of my comfort zone but the end result was extremely rewarding,” said senior Dani Sullivan who performed for her first time this year. “Not only did I get to share this experience with my best friends but it felt great to be a part of something so beneficial to a greater cause.”
Another first time performer was senior Amanda Phillips who had never before taken part or acted in a production. Being a part of the performance helped her cope with nerves and public speaking.
“It was also a platform to empower women and raise awareness concerning taboo topics. It helped me understand that although strides have been made for women and those in the LGBQ community, there is still much work to be done to attain true equality,” said Phillips. “It is productions like this and the great women who dedicate their time and effort that are making changes – even if it is only within our small campus community.”
The Vagina Monologues has helped people talk about the subjects that are discussed throughout the play in public. The performers this year have implemented the importance of talking about these current issues and spreading awareness not only to the student body of Manhattanville College, but to those who are willing to listen and make a change.