Editor’s Note: This article features explicit language and descriptions of sexual assault.
The dominatrix stood in an earthy green dress and black stilettos.
She observed the room as the girl at her feet tilted back and let out the ear-shattering moan of an “uninhibited militant bisexual.”
Subsequent moans followed by those around her: the “tortured zen moan,” the “rockstar moan,” the “Jewish moan” and the “Irish-Catholic moan” – all embodied the infinite scope of the female orgasm.
There was an overwhelming air of acceptance and unity at the Vagina Monologues rehearsal.
Sixteen courageous actresses, all students, are working to destroy the stigma of women’s sexuality. They aim to reveal, with a mixture of humor and honesty, through stories of sexual assault, genital mutilation, abuse and self-loathing, that this stigma can produce catastrophic results.
The Monologues, held this Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. in Nyumburu’s Multipurpose Room, is one of Sex Week’s integral events.
Performers practiced Monday evening in Jimenez Hall, transforming a classroom into a stage. The blackboard became a backdrop for self-discovery through tragedy, defiance, revolution and orgasm.
Actresses whispered forgotten lines to their fellow performers, and good-humored bursts of laughter erupted with each new pronunciation of the word “clitoris.”
The performers waiting their turns mouthed the lines of the present performer, frowned at monologues detailing child-abuse and genital mutilation and laughed as two actresses squatted on the floor, pretending to examine their vaginas with invisible hand mirrors.
The monologues will begin with an older woman from New York with a thick accent describing her “flooding” vagina. While practicing, nobody blushed nor looked away as she detailed her lack of day-to-day sex life and her raging sexual dreams about an illusive man named Burt.
If the actresses were uncomfortable when they were first learning their lines, it is not so now.
For many, it has been a transformative experience.
“I just became so much more comfortable with everything that the show is about, ” said Carly Moore, a sophomore English and secondary education double major.
Moore began her acting career last year as the dominatrix who exclaims passionately about her love of making women moan with pleasure.
“That was a good piece to start [my theatre career] off with,” Moore said.
This year, she will be exploring diction and the wonders of the clitoris with the Cunt and Vagina Workshop monologues.
Sam Sauter, a junior environmental science and policy major, will play the part of both a six-year-old and 12-year-old abuse victim. She elaborated on the personal impact participating in the performance has had on her.
“I know a lot of people who have dealt with sexual violence and I thought it was really important for me to be involved in something like this,” Sauter said. “Also, I’ve had some not so great experiences myself so it’s kind of cool to be able to have this sort of outlet and also to have some positive stories told too.”
She also expressed the liberation and empowerment that she felt in being able to talk openly discuss vaginas.
Dajani Strachan, a sophomore civil engineering major, looks forward to portraying the part of a young victim of child abuse. The dynamic nature of this character will be embodied in the three actresses who will play her.
“It’s such a universal story, like it has happened to so many girls, so many kids,” Strachan said.
Rebecca Bradley, a sophomore psychology major, is the co-director of the play.
She entered the Monologues last year as a freshman in order to escape the uncomfortable stigma of female sexuality she had been exposed to in high school health class.
“I wanted to become involved with the Vagina Monologues because I was so uncomfortable with the content and so uncomfortable with my body and sexual health in general,” Bradley said.
The final production will be a product of the combined imaginations not only of the directors, but the actresses as well.
“Everyone who is involved in the play really has a say in how it’s run and how their pieces are produced so the ultimate production […] is really a reflection of not only Rebecca and I […] but a cohesive version of what everybody in the play thought that they wanted to see the piece turn out to be,” senior co-director Moriah Ray said.
The performers and crew highly encouraged men to attend the production.
“For the men watching the vagina monologues, enjoy it!” Bradley said. “These women, you know, they’re going to be traipsing across the stage looking wonderful.”
Monologues will present stories of female liberation and human triumph alike, ending with a poetic proclamation of the body as a revolution – not a battleground.