UNCW’s annual performance of “The Vagina Monologues,” hosted by the Women’s Studies Student Association (WSSA), will return for its 14th anniversary on February 13th and 16th at the Lumina Theatre at UNCW. The monologues are part of UNCW’s 21st annual Intercultural Week (celebrating diversity in the community through movies, discussion, theatre, etc.). Also a part of the annual V-Day International—a global movement to end violence against women—this year welcomes a somewhat different approach to the play, as one monologue will be performed in Spanish, in the hopes of integrating the growing Latina community in Wilmington and at UNCW.
In 1994 Eve Ensler, a playwright and activist, introduced the world to a piece of art never before witnessed. “The Vagina Monologues” addresses the social stigma that surrounds abuse and rape, as well as women’s sexuality. Ensler created her play by conducting interviews with women across the world about various issues.
“‘The Vagina Monologues’ takes you through the myriad female experience, from the personal to the communal,” Sara Bode, student director of the 2014 event, states. An active champion for the women’s and human rights community in Wilmington—via events like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes (an international men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence) and Elect Her (which encourages college women to train and run for student goverment and political office)—Bode often joins local and student-run events. “I’ve participated in promoting acceptance of queer identities (i.e. “The B in LGBTQIA and the Silent P”) and events raising awareness about cyber bullying,” she says.
Bode participated as a cast member for the monologues over the past two years. “It’s a moving production from any vantage point—from audience member, to volunteer, to actress, to director. As a woman, I’ve always been interested in the female experiences, ones I can identify with and ones I can’t.”
She gave an introduction in 2012’s show, and acted in “They Beat the Girl out of my Boy.” In 2013, she played her favorite role.
“The most memorable monologue for me is always ‘My Angry Vagina,’ which is about exactly what it sounds like—an angry vagina,” Bode notes. “The monologue expresses woes about tampons, ‘mean, cold duck lips’ at the gynecologist, and thong underwear.”
Topics run the gamut in “The Vagina Monologues.” It will relate to women and men alike—“from childbirth to sex (both fulfilling and unfulfilling), abuse (rape and molestation), oppression because of gender or sexual orientation, to linguistics and vernacular,” according to Bode.
This production plays a significant role in continuing a dialogue concerning women. “As a woman, I have felt oppression in all sorts of forms throughout my life, from the sexist cadences in the English language, to verbal and emotional abuse, to workplace-related gender injustice,” Bode explains. “It is liberating for me to participate in something that brings women together in celebration of helping other women and extolling women locally, nationally, and worldwide.”
Each year proceeds raised for “The Vagina Monologues” benefit local nonprofits that work to stop violence against women and girls. The Rape Crisis Center, V-day International, and The Carousel Center—which helps abused children—receive funds from ticket sales, along with donations and sponsorships. New to the production this year will be a raffle, which includes a Reeds Jewelers’ blue topaz, sterling-silver bracelet.
Funds raised in last year’s production amounted to $8,444.95, with $615.38 given to V-Day International, $4,984.66 to Rape Crisis and $553.85 to The Carousel Center. The Rape Crisis Center and its staff have a long history with the annual event. “Amy Feath, who was director of Rape Crisis for 18 years, and now the [executive director] for Carousel Center, directed our 2010 monologues,” Bode states.
The production has grown over the last 14 years, starting off with only a handful of actresses. Today, it boasts a cast of 25, comprising UNCW students, faculty members, as well as some community members.
“A UNCW film studies alumnus, Joshua Prindiville, of Last BastiAn Media, will be shooting a promotional video of this year’s shenanigans, and singer/songwriter Dylan Linehan has volunteered to perform at both performances,” Bode includes.
Performances over the past three years have completely sold out. Bode anticipates this year to be no different. “I’ve overheard both positive and encouraging responses from students on campus,” she tells. “Those men and women who walk away from the performance with an uncomfortable feeling seem to understand that through their discomfort, they’ve formed connections to previously unrelatable topics. And the fact that we’ve sold out three years in a row should tell you something!”
The Vagina Monologues
Feb., 13th; 7 p.m.; Feb. 16th, 3 p.m.
Lumina Theatre, UNCW campus
Tickets: $5-$12 • www.etix.com