“Va-gi-na.” With the curtains closed, the opening speech from the 2016 production of “The Vagina Monologues” addressed the issues with this particular word. Usually considered crass or inappropriate to say in public, the purpose of “The Vagina Monologues” is to de-stigmatize that word. In 1996, playwright Eve Ensler wrote a series of monologues based on interviews with real women talking about their vaginas. Some of these questions included “If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?” and “If your vagina could talk, what would it say?”

“The Vagina Monologues” is performed on campus every year around V-Day, which, according to V-Day.org, is “a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.” Through performances of “The Vagina Monologues” as well as other campaigns, colleges and communities around the world recognize the power of womanhood and stand together to support victims of violence. The proceeds of this year’s “Vagina Monologues” went to the Brandeis Rape Crisis Center, a resource for survivors of sexual assault.

The show was held in the Shapiro Campus Center Theater. On the walls were names of the cast and other women whom the cast believed were powerful and incredible supporters of women’s rights. The stage was set up like a public park. When each woman delivered her monologue, she was telling it not just to the audience but to a friend or various friends seated on the benches behind her or next to her. Besides the traditional monologues used in every performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” director Zari Havercome ’16 decided to feature a video from the University of West Florida’s production of the show which included a monologue by Ensler taken from interviews with trans-women. The monologue is titled “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy, Or So They Tried.” The whole cast watched, in awe of the extremely powerful monologue.

Some of the standout monologues included “The Flood,” where Naomi Rodriquez ’16 performed a hilarious story of an older woman and her relationship with her vagina, and Alex Shapiro’s ’18 performance “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy” as a sex worker who strives to make women feel pleasure. Shapiro gave it her all as she demonstrated different types of orgasms on stage causing the audience to roar with approval. “The Vagina Workshop,” performed by LaQuasia Cherry ’17, Miranda Hurtado-Ramos ’19 and Isabel Lahn-Schroeder ’19, described what it was like to be in a seminar where the purpose was to learn to be comfortable with one’s vagina.

Charissa Fajardo ’17 and Akshiti Todi ’19 gave a powerful performance titled “My Vagina Was My Village” about a refugee being raped and another woman who appreciated her vagina for what it was. This juxtaposition of emotions created a tense and provocative performance. “My 6-Year-Old Vagina” showcased the talent of Julia Green ’18 as she dressed as a little kid and described what she thought her vagina looked like. In “My Angry Vagina,” Ellie McKnight ’18 did an incredible job of talking about how frustrating it is to put things up one’s vagina —including tampons which make a vagina “angry.”

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PROUD CAST: The cast and crew of “The Vagina Monologues” poses in front of the sign representing the theme of this year’s show #SAYTHEIRNAME(s).

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By ETHAN SAAL/the Justice

ANGRY VAGINA: Ellie McKnight ’18 delivers a monologue involving anger over the stigma of vaginas.

“My Short Skirt” brought down the house as the fierce and passionate Gabriela Astaiza ’19 talked about the attention women get from wearing skirts that are deemed too short. My favorite performance of the night was “Because He Liked to Look at It,” delivered by Abby Levi ’19. Levi had the audience in stitches with one glance. This piece is particularly powerful because it tells the story of a woman who dated a man who was more in awe of her vagina than she was. Because this man taught her to love her vagina, she became a more empowered person. This monologue taught the audience that our bodies are what make us who we are as individuals and that we must embrace every part of ourselves, including the more intimate ones.

Between the pieces, members of the “V-Squad,” which included Shoshi Singer ’18, Tamar Lieberman ’19, Claudia Roldan ’18 and Junha Cho ’19, gave facts or tidbits about both the vagina and the pieces themselves.

One moment focused on the stigma given to the word “cunt.” By focusing on each letter and describing the word itself, the audience shifted a little bit in their seats.

The theme of this year’s production of “The Vagina Monologues” was #SayTheirName(s). According to Havercome’s director’s note, she pictured “The Vagina Monologues” being performed as a protest outside. To create this image, the end of the show featured each woman holding up a sign with a name of a powerful woman in her life. “The Vagina Monologues” taught the audience that a woman’s vagina is defined not as a vessel for men but as something that makes her a part of society in a powerful and strong way.