The Vagina Monologues is an outstanding tradition that runs in the Manhattanville community. Year after year, different women direct the monologues written by Eve Ensler in association with V-Day. This year, senior Dance and Theater major, Lea Romano directed the school classroom themed show.
“The stereotypes that women are constantly conformed to are represented within this year’s show, as well, in order to help show the specific categories that women are constantly put into, day in and day out,” explained Romano.
The Vagina Monologues is a series of monologues that introduces a wildly divergent gathering of female voices, including a six-year-old girl, a septuagenarian New Yorker, a vagina workshop participant, a woman who witnesses the birth of her granddaughter, a Bosnian survivor of rape, and a feminist happy to have found a man who “liked to look at it,” according to Tony Award winning playwright, activist, and performer Eve Ensler’s website.
The Vagina Monologues sparked the V-Day movement, which encourages college campuses and communities to produce The Vagina Monologues.
V-Day, which stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina, is “a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of playwright/founder Eve Ensler’s award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works,” according to vday.org. The organization allows The Vagina Monologues to be a free show.
In exchange for this, all the proceeds from the show are donated to a local charity of their choice, that supports the end of violence against women. According to Romano, Manhattanville’s benefactor was Hope’s Door, a local women’s shelter in Pleasantville, New York.
Romano performed The Vagina Monologues every year before she applied to direct.
“I truly love what this show stands for, and the cause that it helps to raise awareness for,” stated Romano.
As her 35th production, she explained her love for the feminist theater and based her thesis off it. Romano explained that feminist theater incorporates women’s social and political struggles through theatrics.
Each year, only women are involved in the production and typically men are not involved. This year, Roma no incorporated a video that opened up the show which included a variety of male alumni, faculty, and resident life staff who explained what feminism meant to them. They were asked deeper questions, as well. Romano asked if they ever witnessed sexual assault in person and what feminism means to them. Each man had a different response, which made it especially interesting for the audience.
Romano just finished her run of Avenue Q and was immediately immersed into The Vagina Monologues. Jumping from cast member to director was an interesting change. Junior Musical Theater major, Paola Morales explained that “Romano has a vision of her own and she works towards that. She is very disciplined, which makes the rehearsals very professional.”
Sophomore Musical Theater Major Tia Inoue, also described what it was like to have a cast mate transform into the director.
“It’s interesting having a cast mate as a director because all the notes that we were given during rehearsals on how do better. It’s interesting to see how she took performance notes from Avenue Q and incorporated it into The Vagina Monologues,” said Inoue.
Morales explained how exciting and enjoyable Romano was to work with, “One of the things I like the most about her is that she is very straight forward; she’s full of constructive criticism which is very important to get as a performer. She is full of knowledge and we learn a lot from her.”
The Vagina Monologues was very special to Romano, she explained that this production hit very close to the heart. “I am a huge feminist, and a very big fan of feminist theatre, in itself. I think The Vagina Monologues speaks to me on another level, due to my love of feminist theatre, as it is the number one, ideal piece of feminist theatre in the world, today.”
Romano went on to explain that V-Day means a lot to her as well, because “it is one of the most performed plays in American history, and raises money, nationally, for all kinds of women in need. This piece is beautiful, and shocking, and elegant, and raw, all wrapped into one. It speaks to everyone, and for everyone, while still being true to itself, along the way.”
Overall, the tradition of The Vagina Monologues is a fantastic addition to the community that sends a message of feminism, raises awareness for rape, sexual assault. The Vagina Monologues as a whole, raises money for a fantastic cause and has had productions in over 140 countries.