The Vagina Monologues has a lasting legacy at Illinois College. For years, at least for the past 10 by my count, a group of students has worked together every spring to put on Eve Ensler’s famous play about vaginas, featuring humorous stories that quickly bring the audience to laughter and serious stories that echo the harsh realities faced by many women across the world. Ensler’s play appeals to a large variety of emotions and takes a strong, diverse cast to put on.
I’ve seen The Vagina Monologues every year that I’ve been at IC, and as a Jacksonville native I’ve heard about it for much longer than that. While this year’s and last’s have certainly left an impression upon me, nothing will compare to the feeling of seeing it for the first time. Going in, I was expecting a mostly humorous show, which it is, but was surprised at how serious it got.
This year, I stumbled my way into the cast list, quite literally. Melissa George, President of IC Feminists and director of The Vagina Monologues this year, talked me into auditioning and before I knew it, I had been assigned three full length monologues to prepare in anticipation of my stage debut.
As someone who has never been involved with theatre before, with the exception of being the director’s assistant for a play my senior year of high school, choosing to make my theatre debut as part of this show, in a lower-stress environment than some others, was a good choice.
The beauty about The Vagina Monologues is its relatability to such a widespread audience. In essence, it appeals to virtually everybody. It deals with friendship, relationships, family, and love. It also touches on much more serious topics, such as sexual assault, war, and genital mutilation.
I didn’t realize just how difficult it would be to immerse myself into new roles, even though the monologues that I read were some of the more moderate ones. I developed a new appreciation for my fellow actors who did manage to take on roles much more different from their daily lives, such as the woman who was raped during war. It is important, however, to present all of these monologues in their entirety, as they are the stories collected from actual women over the course of many interviews by Ensler. To remove any of the monologues decontextualizes the stories, makes them seem like they are unimportant, and makes it seem like the women whose stories they come from are unimportant.
Each woman’s story is unique and that’s what makes the show so special. It shows these stories, some of which might not have been shared with many people, and presents them in such a way that many people, men and women alike, can relate to them. Being part of this show was a memorable experience, even more so than seeing it in person, and is something that I will not soon forget. I would encourage everyone to, at the very least, see a production of The Vagina Monologues.
Katie Linder, from Jacksonville, Illinois, is a junior majoring in Sociology and Spanish with an English minor at Illinois College. Katie is an opinions writer for The Rambler, a consultant in the Campus Writing Center, and a member of the IC concert choir, Sigma Tau Delta, and Phi Sigma Iota.