by Dalton Cox
For over a decade, Feb. 14 has marked Elon University’s observance of V-Day. On campus, however, this inconspicuous V is more than just the initial of a saint. It stands for vagina, and brings with it Elon’s annual performance of “The Vagina Monologues.” The two 2015 performances, sponsored by Elon’s Feminists, were held back-to-back on Saturday evening in Whitley Auditorium
“The Vagina Monologues” is a performance piece by playwright Eve Ensler, based an extensive series of interviews that Ensler conducted with women regarding their relationships, experiences with sexual violence, and exclusively female anatomy. These talks became the basis for Ensler’s collection of monologues, a feminist compilation that wavers among humor, discovery, tragedy and redemption. To remain relevant, Ensler frequently publishes revisions of the play.
In 1998 Ensler co-launched the V-Day campaign, which raises money for groups aimed at ending violence against women. It has since become a multinational tradition for colleges and universities to perform the monologues as a V-Day fundraiser. The proceeds from Elon’s latest production of “The Vagina Monologues” were donated to Alamance County’s CrossRoads Sexual Response and Resource Center.
The 2015 performance was co-directed by Rebecca Nipper, Class of 2015, and Ciara Corcoran, Class of 2017. According to Ciara, the show remains fresh to the Elon community because it is directed and performed by a new group of women each year, and utilizes the most recent revisions made by Ensler.
“It’s a topic women have been told not to talk about,” Corcoran said. “But this is a show literally about vaginas, so you have to sit there and listen to a show about this part of anatomy that is so important to women. I don’t want to say it defines them, but it is an important part of who they are.”
Elon first year Katie Shannon performed in “The Vagina Monologues” as one of a group of transgendered women.
“They make some points in this series of monologues that I had never thought about before,” Shannon said. “Like tampons. Tampons are really awful things . . . When I was learning about these women and their stories, maybe about something really embarrassing that might’ve happened to them, I thought, oh, I can relate to that – even something as simple as just ranting about tampons. And, I needed that.”
One of the most tragic of the monologues relates the experiences of a woman who was held captive in a prison camp during the Bosnian War. As a war tactic, many women imprisoned in these camps were repeatedly raped or sexually abused. Most recently, the role of this woman was portrayed by Elon first year Meredith Piatt. Piatt explained that although the show is a feminist piece, it remains relevant to the lives of everyone, regardless of gender.
“People talk about penises all the time,” Piatt said. “It’s not like that for women. I don’t think it’s just important for women but I also think it’s important for men to come see the show, so they can relate with these girls. I find girls I relate to in these monologues all the time . . . It was really difficult for me to put myself in my character’s place, but once I did, I really connected with her.”
As the United States has recently acknowledged an epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses, students finding such an ability to empathize with the opposite sex may be more important than ever.