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Director Tirzah McMillan reflects on Vagina Monologues

By Tirzah McMillan
Lifestyle Editor

“Many voices. One message. Until the violence stops,” we all affirmed in unison, as the crowd applauded and the curtains closed. It was the final show. It was the last time this school would hear our voices ring loud with confidence and raw with emotion.

It was the last time until the following year, that they would hear our message. That we would make them laugh. Make them cry. This was the first and last time I would stand side by side, hand in hand with these women as their director, encourager, confidante, and No. 1 fan.

In jubilant rejoicing we screamed, “Boobs, vagina, boobs, boobs, vagina, BUTT!” It was a typical rally cry, a simple song of music to our ears signifying, WE FREAKIN’ DID IT! And that we did.

From our first rehearsal back in September, up until our last February rehearsal on Wednesday before the show, we worked tirelessly to prove to ourselves, and to others, that Vagina Monologues is a worthy cause. Women and girls are a worthy cause. Speaking up against violence towards those who do not have a voice to speak up for themselves, will always be a worthy cause.

Myself and my wonderful co-directors, Kerri O’Rourke and Maddie Muccino all poured ourselves into this year’s production. Countless hours were spent planning, organizing, readjusting to curve balls that were thrown at us. There were times we did not want to be there. Times where we did not have the flexibility to meet up. But we still made it happen. There were times we all realized that directing this show is equivalent to a full-time job, minus the pay.

But we still kept going, because it was not about us. It never was, and never will be.

***

It all began last year. There were about two months left until the performance, and I was simply observing one of the rehearsals for an article I was writing about a young woman within the cast. A member was missing from her group, so she suggested I fill in and read with them for the “angry vagina” monologue. Unafraid of trying new things, and born naturally sassy, I found the experience to be quite easy going and fun.

We spent the remainder of rehearsal going over the monologue, trying to implement movements, and coming up with creative ways to bring this woman’s story to life.

Long story short, we performed in front of the directors, they caught my vibe, they liked it, I liked them, they said, “You want to do this thing?” and I was like, “uhm, YUH,” and next thing you know, I was standing there all alone in Dodge A/B not knowing what I had gotten myself into… but I knew I wanted to make a difference.

The show came around and I was in the very first monologue. I had the first line of the show, and the experience over the course of the next three days was exhilarating. I got on stage with three other women to talk about vaginas, and ironically with Kerri O’Rourke, who would turn out to be my sis for life and one of my co-directors in a bright future I had no idea was waiting to unfold.

It was so powerful knowing that although being a part of the Monologues was not in my original plan, God had a plan for me, and my purpose made itself known.

***

Being nominated as a director last spring was unexpected, and in a sense I felt undeserving. There were women who longed to be in this position of leadership. Women who would do a phenomenal job at guiding others and sparking their inner light, igniting their fire.

I felt I had not put in enough time to have gained such credit. I was young. I still am. Women traditionally are directors in their senior year of college, and for some reason I felt underprepared and overwhelmed.

At the time I was still in spring training for field hockey. A sport I had fallen in love with and had been playing on a competitive level for almost half my life. I did not know how I was going to manage being dedicated to my team, showing up for conditioning, early morning lifts, and games, all while trying to get A’s and B’s in class, and putting on a production I had performed in, but was still unfamiliar with.

It was one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in my life, but I let it go. I let field hockey go. A piece of my identity. A piece of my past. This time last year I had seen articles in The Springfield Student with my name in it for my performances on the field. I even wrote last year’s article about the Vagina Monologues production, but life has a funny way of acknowledging all of your actions, and giving you exactly what you deserve in return.

At first I felt unworthy, but now I am proud. With the help of my directors, and the support of my family and friends, I put on a show that touched the lives of individuals who may never remember my name, but they will recognize what I stand for. They will know that no matter how much materialism I may be surrounded by, I will always be rooted in humble servanthood.

I take pride in my own work, but my heart swells when I think of what was accomplished by the women within my cast. They rooted me. They grew and changed and taught me things you can only learn when you are put in the position of a teacher.

At times, they were a mirage. A sea of color and emotion. Red with rage, attitude, impatience, excitement, love. Blue with sadness, longing, desire, timidness. But other times, they were still water. They provided a reflection of myself that I could not see without them.

In their eyes I saw my passion, my strength, my grace, and my humor. Through them, I saw my worthiness. My virtuousness. I no longer shied away from who or what I was given, because I realized I was exactly where I needed to be.

***

Divine timing is everything. Nothing in this beautiful life should be forced. All things meant for you will come to you in due time. Through trial and error lessons will be learned, wisdom will be gained, and some innocence will be lost. I am so thankful for the sweet imperfection of my journey. The abruptness of being thrown into a position of leadership, which demanded I shed myself of unnecessary burdens holding me back.

This year I fell deeper in love with myself, in love with others, in love with the hopeful spirit of humanity. I owe so much of that newfound love to this production, this position, to the women I spent weeks on end with, getting to know as best as I could in a short period of time.

It changed my life.

These women are the reason I will keep going. The reason I will keep seeking change and the reason I will only tolerate humane, just treatment across the board, for all. What I accomplished this year will be a constant reminder that my work is never finished. I can never become complacent, lackadaisical. I must never lose the fight in me. As a friend, sister, daughter, lover; a student, worker, activist, future mother; my spark will never die.

I am what ignites the fire.

Photo courtesy of Hannah Lozano

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