Chronicles of a Reluctant Theater Kid: My Experience in ‘The Vagina Monologues’

Zoe Kovacs | contributing officer

In high school, the word “theater” made my skin crawl. The self-proclaimed thespians, with their genuine love of show tunes, their inside jokes — I abhorred them. Admittedly, it wasn’t theater itself that inspired such feelings, but an unfor- tunate turn of events in which someone I had been dating left me for their co-star — but I digress. I prided myself in feeling superior simply because I was not a theater kid.

Of course, I never expected that I would be one of them.

Yet here I am, devoting four hours of every Friday night for the next month of my life to sit in a room that is so absurdly warm I am convinced all $33,484 of my tuition go towards heating it, rehearsing for The Vagina Monologues. I told myself, it doesn’t count, it’s for feminism! It has nothing to do with theater! But let’s call a spade a spade. Through Feb. 13, I have joined the ranks of thespians. Our director Madeline Barber, as if sensing my dissidence, has no qualms about reminding us that if we weren’t theater kids before, we are now.

zoe kovacs
“Vagina Monologues Poster” by Nicky Fernandes from Hiroshima, Japan – Vagina Monologues Poster.jpg. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

“Vagina Monologues Poster” by Nicky Fernandes from Hiroshima, Japan – Vagina Monologues Poster.jpg. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

The first rehearsal squelched any remaining doubts I had about abandoning my pride for the sake of theater. I was already excited when I heard someone casually mention attending a sex toy party, and by the time someone else produced a head of raw broccoli and hummus as a snack (another raw broccoli eater!), I knew I had found my people.

In The Vagina Monologues, we address everything from pubic hair, rape and orgasms to masturbation, birth and the word “cunt.” In that boiling room un- derneath the Cathedral, we scream and yell and talk about things that we are not “supposed” to talk about, and no one flinches. I think that’s what makes the show so special: it is loud and honest and unapologetic, and above all, it is undeniably feminine.

That said, we are not disillusioned about the problematic aspects of the show (including, but not limited to exclusion of non-feminine identified individuals, racial stereotyping, lack of recognition for sexualities other than gay or straight, instances of transmisogyny). For a piece that proclaims feminism as its goal, it certainly does not lack in questionable content — unsurprising, considering that a heterosexual white woman authored the show at the height of Riot Grrrl feminism in the ’90s.

I like to think of the show as a feminist time capsule. We put on The Vagina Monologues every year not only to remind ourselves of the value and power of femininity, but to use it as a gauge of just how far feminism has evolved. It is possible to appreciate the production for what it is while acknowledging its shortcomings. After all, if we can’t think critically even about the things we enjoy, we aren’t being very good feminists. ◆

Zoe is a sophomore studying English and Classics. She loves watching foreign documentaries in her spare time.

Check out more from our February 2016 issue!