"Women love to talk about their vaginas."
This statement from the introduction to "The Vagina Monologues" aptly described the performances that took place Feb. 14 and 15 in The Pier. From 9 to 11 p.m. each night 32 University of Richmond women performed monologues that celebrated the vulva, raised awareness for female genital mutilation and rape and empowered women to appreciate a part of themselves that often receives much discrimination within society.
"The Vagina Monologues," which were nearly sold out both nights, were directed this year by Maggie McGrann, a senior and an English and theatre double major. This year's cast was the largest it had been in years, she said, with 32 participants, with the average amount of participants in years past being anywhere from 15 to 20.
McGrann said that this year's cast was so large "because of my conviction that TVM does not exclude and is about hearing and seeing all sorts of different women." Indeed, the cast was just as diverse as it was large this year, with women of color, women from various other countries, curvy women, skinny women, and tall women, short women and so on.
McGrann also noted that this was the first year that all the monologues were performed at Richmond. In past performances, monologues deemed too controversial, such as "The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could," which features child molestation and statutory rape, have been left out, despite being legally required by contract to be performed by the nonprofit V-Day organization, which owns the rights to "The Vagina Monologues."
Laurina Santi, one of the two cast members who performed "I Was There in the Room," another controversial monologue, said that participating in "The Vagina Monologues" for the first time was "a wonderful experience."
"It was such a diverse and energetic group," she said. "It was well worth it!"
The audience's reaction to the performances was generally quite positive as well.
Julia Picciotto, a senior at Richmond who had never seen "The Vagina Monologues" before, said she had found the performances very empowering, especially as a feminist.
"[The Monologues] are a source of 'cu*t-inuing' inspiration for women everywhere," she said.
Male members of the audience made up about a third of all attendees, a large increase from past performances, said Ashley Colon, a senior who has attended "The Vagina Monologues" productions at Richmond for the past four years--males also found the show very enjoyable, Colon said.
Jacob Andrews, a student from Virginia Commonwealth University in attendance, said he thought it was fantastic: "One of my favorite 'Monologues' performances I've seen."
Benjamin Wood, a student from VCU who attended with Andrews, said: "I thought it was a little over-the-top at first, because some of the performers seemed to be overacting their parts because of nerves. But once they lost their stage fright, and the pieces started to become more serious, I found myself enjoying it a lot more."
McGrann acknowledged that there were some issues with stage fright with cast members.
"Ultimately I let it go because it's not about being a perfect piece of theatre; it's about empowering women and letting voices be heard," she said.
Ninety-percent of the ticket proceeds from "The Vagina Monologues" will be donated to the Safe Harbor Women's Shelter in Richmond, while the remaining 10 percent is given to the national V-Day organization.
Contact reporter Kelsey Shields at email@example.com