This week, justArts interviewed Viola Dee ’18, who co-directed this year’s performance of “The Vagina Monologues.”

justArts: What was your first experience with Vagina Monologues?

Viola Dee: My mom has always worked at universities.  The first time I actually heard of The Vagina Monologues was on her campus but I never was allowed to see it—I wasn’t old enough. 

JA: What does it mean to direct The Vagina Monologues?

VD: Running rehearsals...we are including some personal monologues in the show this year. So that means we’ve edited those a little bit.  We provide feedback on everyone’s monologue … but with the personal monologues we did a lot of work with them, editing and [giving] feedback.

JA: Brandeis seems to be known, at least in part, for its community’s progressive views. Is The Vagina Monologues as critical to the community here as it might be elsewhere, where women are underrepresented? 

VD: Definitely, definitely. Just because we say at Brandeis that we’re like a social justice university, not everyone is coming from the same background. That means that not everyone is coming from a social justice standpoint. I think that this show gives a lot of people an opportunity to get to see a different perspective that they hadn’t considered. There’s one monologue that’s a story about an older woman … and she has never experienced an orgasm. That’s not something you would necessarily think about in your day-to-day life and that’s not a story that you would hear. …  That’s very personal. There’s another monologue that’s about birth and that one is very graphic, but I think that it’s very needed because birth is a natural part of life. We all were born!  So, I think that it is much needed because it gives people an opportunity to get to do something really exciting and scary and empowering … It gives people a chance to  experience those stories that they might not have heard before.

JA: What were the highs and lows of the process from the start up until now?


VD: At the beginning of the semester we actually had a different space and date reserved. … We found out that our show was taking place the same weekend as the POSI plus retreat. POSI is a scholarship program on campus and every spring semester they have a retreat … POSI is made up of a large number of students of color. We decided as a production staff that if we were to go forward with our show during that weekend, then that would mean excluding a lot of people of color from the show—whether in the cast or in the audience. We really wanted it to be an inclusive space for everyone … so that was a big struggle, getting a space reserved … at the last minute.

JA: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

VD: I think that everyone should come to the show regardless of whether or not you know anyone in’s really entertaining, the stories are really meaningful and I think it’s a great experience for everyone to go at least once in their time at Brandeis. 

 — Maya Zanger-Nadis