Performers prepare for The Vagina Monologues

The monologues tell stories ranging from entertainingly funny to somberly serious.
Susan Rayl performs in the skit “My Angry Vagina” during The Vagina Monologues on Feb. 16, 2013 in Jesse Auditorium. More than 100 women performed in 2013 to raise awareness for domestic sexual violence. Maneater File Photo

Sophomore Kelsey Burns is performing in The Vagina Monologues because she feels it is her duty.

The Vagina Monologues, a play written by Eve Ensler and first performed in 1996, has inspired V-Day, a worldwide event in which participants put on performances for their communities. The monologues raise awareness about many female issues, Burns said, including gender inequality and sexual violence.

The play will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday at Jesse Auditorium.

Burns will perform in the skit “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could,” about a young black woman living in the 1970s who is raped at a young age and then grows up and goes through the shelter system, Burns said.

“The Vagina Monologues show a bunch of really funny, emotional stories that challenge a lot of our society’s beliefs as to what a woman is and what she should do,” Burns said.

Before writing the play, Ensler interviewed women from all around the world about their experiences growing up as women. The monologues feature different women from different times and cover different issues.

Burns said once you are exposed to this kind of information, you can either ignore it or do something about it.

Sponsored by Stronger Together Against Relationship and Sexual Violence through the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center, The Vagina Monologues is a large collaboration between many groups on campus, including the Women’s Center and the LGBTQ Resource Center.

At MU, everyone who auditioned received a part in the play.

“The more years you’ve done it, the more they’ll consider the monologue you auditioned for,” Burns said. “It’s very informal, and you basically just go in and read a monologue, and usually you find out two weeks later what you’ll actually be performing.”

This year, Quirks Consignment Store, a student-led business in the MU Student Center, is offering its support. All week, Quirks will be selling items made by those involved in The Vagina Monologues to raise money and foster a new partnership.

Quirks co-founder Devin Kelsey said partnerships like this one have seen great success in the past, and he cited Dance Marathon as a previous example.

“We've wanted to extend that by helping many other philanthropy groups on campus,” Kelsey said. “Vagina Monologues has always been one of my favorite groups because I think it's a really great thing that they do, and I think it's really important that people speak up for a cause like that."

Kelsey said Quirks’ event is different from others before, since it lasts all week inside the store.

“We decided that we were going to make a really big push for Vagina Monologues, since it's this weekend," Kelsey said.

To capitalize on this, Kelsey reached out to one of his friends involved with the Vagina Monologues to talk about a potential partnership. Everything spiraled from there, he said.

“The items we've received have been selling really well so far," Kelsey said. "We have this little joke now that The Vagina Monologues and Quirks are Valentine’s dates."

For numerous performers like juniors Kristi Stringer and Molly Gaia, The Vagina Monologues offers an outlet for many women-related issues.

Stringer, a member of the Feminist Student Union, went to the production last year without any notion of what it was.

“I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was both funny and sad, and every single monologue that was performed spoke to me,” Stringer said. “I related to every single one of them on some level.”

After that, Stringer knew she wanted to be involved, and Saturday she will perform in “Not-So-Happy Fact,” which is one of the more serious monologues.

“Obviously, it’s not very happy,” Stringer said. “It’s actually one of the saddest ones because it’s about female genital mutilation, which is a pretty serious topic.”

Burns said that once you’re exposed to this kind of information, you can either ignore it or do something about it.

Gaia’s performance is “The Angry Vagina,” which is a more lighthearted piece, Gaia said.

Screaming “vagina” is a very popular way of attracting attention to the show. Gaia said that while people, especially men, are usually uncomfortable at first, the reactions to the monologues’ goals of ending violence against women and human trafficking are very positive.

Proceeds from The Vagina Monologues go toward local shelters and organizations such as True North and the L.E.A.D. Institute, Burns said. This year, expectations are high.

“I had to buy two tickets for my mom, and I was surprised because they were already halfway sold out, and that was a few weeks ago,” Gaia said. “Ticket sales have been going really well, and they’re saying that we might sell out. That’s pretty exciting.”

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