By Jill Campbell
Assistant News and Features Editor
Change is never born out of silence. It is not a product of complacency or ignoring issues simply because they are difficult to talk about. It is the refusal to accept that “this is just how it’s always been.” It is the realization that it doesn’t have to be this way, and that we each hold the power within and the voice in our throat to speak up about the things that matter. To make a difference. To change the course of history.
On Feb. 23, 24, and 25, 64 women of Springfield College will look to do just that in the 15th Annual performance of the Vagina Monologues. After months of rehearsing, soul-searching, and digging deep, these women will brave the Fuller Arts stage to tell the stories of women and girls. They will tell the stories that the world needs to hear.
The Monologues were first written in 1996 by a woman named Eve Ensler. Ensler had always been aware of the injustices that women face every day, simply for being themselves. So she started asking around. She talked to those women, and they eagerly talked back – over 200 of them. They poured their hearts out to her. They shared stories of pain, prejudice, and longing, of love, joy, and empowerment.
Ensler knew she had to share these powerful stories with the world. For too long, women’s real life issues were considered “too taboo” to talk about, and thus, were swept under the rug. But what society considered provocative was really just honest, and it was time to finally break the ice. So Ensler began writing. She took these women’s stories and made them into a series of episodes. And thus, the Vagina Monologues were born. They have now been performed in over 140 countries and translated into more than 48 languages.
The Monologues found their way to Springfield College in 2002 and have been a February staple ever since. The audience has grown so exponentially through the years, to the point that a fourth show was added as a Saturday matinee. All four performances are expected to sell out this year. One-hundred percent of the proceeds will go the local community health center, Annie’s House, and the V-Day Organization which helps to end violence against women and girls around the world.
Those filling the seats are sure to leave Appleton Auditorium with a newfound respect for what women endure daily and a spark ignited to help change it. Springfield College sophomore Jessica Skov was in those very seats one year ago, and when the performance was over, she knew she had to take action.
“I was inspired to join the Vagina Monologues after seeing the show last year. The feeling I had watching the cast of amazing, strong women come together was one of empowerment that I had never experienced before,” said Skov. “Sitting in Fuller as an audience member, I knew that I had to be a part of this movement.”
Skov was not the only one who left last year’s show feeling inspired and ready to join the movement. Of the 64 women that make up the cast, a resounding 40 of them are first timers. The other 24 returners are there to welcome the newcomers into the sisterhood and continue to spread the Monologues magic.
“Getting on stage and sending a message to hundreds of people, a message that is so important to you and other women around the world is exhilarating,” said junior Caitlin Dolan. “After seeing the Monologues as a freshman and being a part of the cast last year, I really can’t think of one reason to not be a part of this amazing movement.”
The movement that is the Vagina Monologues is also not exclusive. While only women are allowed to perform the monologues, anyone can be an ally. And in order for the message to become as widespread as possible, participation by those allies is necessary, regardless of age, race, gender, etc. It becomes a chain reaction.
Veteran Vagina and Springfield College senior Amanda Crane has been involved with the Monologues throughout her college career as both an ally and a cast member later on. Through holding both of those roles, Crane was able to see that by making a change in oneself, a ripple effect is created.
“We all have a responsibility in this movement. When we take the time to understand ourselves, we have the opportunity to recognize our strengths and improvements and use those to allow ourselves to help others rise,” said Crane.
Some of the most influential supporters of these amazing women are their Bobs. Bobs are allies chosen by returning or senior Vaginas due to their unwavering advocacy for women’s issues. They are also committed to spreading the message of equality and empowering women.
Bobs are there to act as aids during the show. For all of the small tasks that are necessary but inconvenient for the Vaginas to do themselves, the Bobs are on it. Who sells the tickets at the door? Who is in charge of moving around props in between scenes? Who is there to offer encouragement throughout the lengthy rehearsal process? Of course, the Bobs.
“Bobs get an opportunity to see first hand how hard the girls work to make this production happen, so being able to be a part of it is truly an honor,” said Ben Morales. “Listening to the different monologues is quite empowering, and makes me realize that we all can make a difference in this movement.”
Sophomore Zach Varnauskas is a first-time Bob this year, and he has already absorbed the gravity and necessity that comes with that role. He also understands that being a Bob does not mean supporting your Vagina only, but supporting women altogether.
“The best part about being a Bob is that it is a mentality. You do not have to be a part of the performance to be supportive and welcoming to females across campus. A combination of Vaginas and Bobs have the power to make a huge difference in today’s world.”
For those that are interested in making a difference, want more education, or are just looking for an evening of entertainment, attending the Vagina Monologues will do all that and more. These women have been preparing for months on end, and a powerful show is practically guaranteed.
“It’s difficult to say exactly what I would like the audience members to take away because the experience is so individualized,” said VM co-director Jocelyn Rogers. “Ultimately, I want this show to start a conversation. In order for change to happen, the issues need to be addressed and discussed.”