Preparing for the Vagina Monologues

Stephanie Hernandez performs a monologue titled, “The Flood,” during the Vagina Monologues in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union on Feb. 12.

Jacey Goetzman

At the dress rehearsal for the Vagina Monologues, an ice breaker was asked to shake off pre-performance jitters – “If your vagina could eat anything right now, what would it be?”

“Watermelon,” one performer answered. “Coffee,” another voiced. “Painkillers,” a person in the back of the line replied to a resounding sound of laughters and understanding “oh’s.”

It is now only days until the performance. Thursday, at 7:00, the crowd will be real.

The Vagina Monologues, written by Eve Ensler in 1996, were brought to Iowa State 15 years ago. While subject to criticism about inclusivity and stereotyping, the monologues continue to be one thing for both performers and directors alike – empowering.

For Alondra “Marie” Matos, a junior in meteorology, it is all about giving a voice to the women who may have not had one.

“This is their story, and you don’t know it, because they hide it behind a smile or a straight face,” Matos said. “For me, it was so empowering to be able to tell her story – and to make me feel like I was doing something. It was small, but at the same time, it was big.”

The measure of that impact, Matos said, comes into play with the crowd. For Matos, it is about opening their eyes that this is a real situation – something not to frown upon, but to talk about instead.

It is her second year performing in The Vagina Monologues. It is also Natasha Hill’s second time.

Hill, a sophomore in global resource systems, said that she was excited to audition for The Vagina Monologues because of the very word that describes the performance.

“I’ve never really been the most polite,” Hill said. “I’ve always been [unconcerned] with language. I’m very open about who I am, so something that’s called ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ I thought was just great. Because vaginas are great.”

For Hill, the performances have been a talking point. Last year, she had her father and many of her guy friends come.

“It honestly took [my dad] a couple minutes – or, OK, a couple days actually – for everything to sink in,” Hill said. “What he had just heard… his daughter yelling ‘c***’ on stage… but I think after a couple days, he was really proud of me. And he was really excited [and supportive] that I was doing this.”

The performances come in any range of expression, from an elderly woman talking about how her vagina would come with a sign that said ‘keep out’ to another piece which reads, ‘[my vagina] needs to talk to you.'”

The Vagina Monologues’ common purpose is to do one thing: raise awareness of violence against women and funds for anti-violence groups within the community – ACCESS (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support) specifically. 10% of the proceeds will go to V-Day, known as a “global activist movement to end violence against women and girls” according to the event’s website.

For Hill, the monologues go further.

“The Vagina Monologues, for me [… are] a great way to express myself as a woman and be proud of it,” Hill said.

It is now only days until the performance. Thursday, at 7:00, the crowd will be more than cast members. It will be people of the Iowa State campus. And while the cast has hopes for the performance, they also have hopes for the audience.

“I hope that [they] will feel empowered to be open to thinking about vaginas and vulvas and women’s experiences in a new light,” said Kate Gallagher, cast director of The Vagina Monologues.

For Hill, it is a celebration of sorts.

“Celebrate women and all the glory that they are,” Hill said.

The showings will be on Thursday, from 7:00-8:30pm and Friday, between 6:00-7:30 and 9:00-10:30pm.