Just days after the word “vagina” sparked a huge controversy at Cleveland High School in Reseda, CSUN put on a full-fledged production of Eve Ensler’s ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ attracting an energetic crowd of hundreds of people.
Set against a pink-lit backdrop, about 30 girls sat on stage while individual actresses performed distinct monologues. A live harp-player soothed the audience with the whimsical music, and a dancer forcefully flung a pink ribbon through the air.
The play started with an introduction to the word vagina – “Let’s just start with the word vagina. It sounds like an infection at best, maybe a medical instrument: ‘Hurry, Nurse, bring me the vagina.’ Doesn’t matter how many times you say it, it never sounds like a word you want to say.”
Ensler’s Obie-award winning play, “The Vagina Monologues” interviews hundreds of women of all ages, races and social status about their vaginas, asking them what it would wear, what it would say, and generally observing a vast number of vagina experiences and stories.
The first monologue performed was about pubic hair. The one-woman act detailed a woman’s experience with a husband who preferred her to shave her vagina, but she didn’t like the itchiness that accompanied the bareness. After being forced by her therapist to let her husband shave her vagina, she realized that hair is the “leaf around the flower,” and the “lawn around the house.”
This skit was presented in a bare fashion, with no props except for the backdrop of women behind her. The actresses’ vocal infliction carried the performance through, using tense pauses and sharp wit to make the scene hilariously funny.
The acts are interspersed with happy and not-so-happy vagina facts, often detailing things like the amount of nerves in the clitoris (a whopping 8,000 – more than anywhere else on the human body) and the on-going acts of female genital mutilation. These facts help give the play credibility, and break up some rather intense emotions left behind after certain depressing or hilarious scenes.
A highpoint in the production was the performance of “My Angry Vagina,” by Gabi Habush. Habush’s loud, demanding presence on stage made the audience empathize with her, as she shouted out “My Vagina’s angry. It is. It’s pissed off. My vagina’s furious, and it needs to talk.”
This monologue details why vaginas are angry – because of tampons, douche sprays, cold speculums and gynecological exams. The world of reproductive and menstrual products has never been incredibly friendly to female anatomy, and this monologue proves it. Habush had the audience in stitches, and her heavy stomping and convincing yells made the crowd really feel her presence.
Another incredible performance was given by Deveraeu Chumrau, who acted out “The Woman who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy.” The voice of this skit is a sex worker who used to be a corporate lawyer. Her skit details how she loves to make women orgasm, and it entails the acting out of over 10 different types of orgasmic moans. The audience was in absolute stitches as Chumrau’s natural energy and spirit went through moans like “the African-American moan” and “the student moan,” which featured breathy moaning punctuated with “oh, I should be studying? I should be studying.”
Chumrau has a promising future on the stage, because her performance easily made the whole show worth the cost of admission ($7 for students, all of which was donated to local women’s shelters across the valley).
All of the scenes were woven with wit and emotion, a few of which were painful to hear but serve as an important reminder for why vaginas are so important. One act, entitled “My Vagina Was My Village” was a poetic rendition of a Serbian woman’s endurance of daily rape. This act was hard to sit through, but it demonstrated that while rape is a problem that is all too often brushed under the rug, it needs to be made known to help heal and protect women over the world.
Although the first night of “The Vagina Monologues” performance wasn’t perfect (sound issues and rude audience members dimmed its strength for some) it served a vital role in educating the community about the importance of the vagina. All proceeds went to the Haven Hills Domestic Violence Shelter and The Valley Trauma Counseling Center. Girls clad in pink, white and red sold tee-shirts, pins and chocolate vagina-shaped lollipops.
“The Vagina Monologues” will be performed at CSUN again next year in February. Anybody who wants to see a moving and hilarious tribute to the vagina should be there; ready to laugh, cry and be thankful for an amazing piece of anatomy.