‘Vagina Monologues’ to encourage empowerment of women at Washburn

Leia Karimul Bashar

“If your vagina could talk, what would it say?”

This question, along with other vagina-related questions, will be posed to audience members during “The Vagina Monologues” 8 p.m. Feb. 15 and 16 at the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center at Washburn University.

This will mark the third time “The Vagina Monologues” has been performed at Washburn. Eve Ensler’s award-winning play features women reading monologues that relate to female genitalia. Director Sharon Sullivan says it is being staged this year to honor the 10th anniversary of V-Day, which was inspired by the play and began in 1998 as a way to call attention to violence against women and girls.

“A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer” will debut 8 p.m. Feb. 22 and 23 at the Andrew J. and Georgia Neese Gray Theatre in the Garvey Fine Arts Center. Assistant director Brenda Blackman says this latest play by Ensler will include a collection of monologues detailing people’s encounters with violence.

“At a conference in New York last year, Ensler asked a lot of famous authors and playwrights to write about their personal experiences with violence,” said Blackman.

Writers who added their voices to the material include Maya Angelou, Edward Albee, Jane Fonda and Alice Walker.

Sullivan says she hopes that “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer” will contribute to a conversation that men and women can have together.

“Both [plays] work to raise awareness of violence in the world,” said Sullivan. “But what ‘A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer’ does is bring men into the picture in a way that ‘The Vagina Monologues’ does not, because men have written and performed in this production.”

Although Sullivan recognizes that many people still consider “The Vagina Monologues” controversial she doesn’t think it should be seen that way. Sullivan says the play encourages women to reclaim the word “vagina” as a symbol of empowerment.

“People assume if you’re going to perform ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ you hate men,” said Sullivan. “Most feminists aren’t man haters, despite what people say. This play is about self-love. It’s a positive thing.”

Blackman also disagrees with the controversy over the play.

“I think it’s important to talk about it,” said Blackman. “People joke about guys’ private parts all the time. Why can’t we joke about ours?”

According to a news release for the event, “The Vagina Monologues” and “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer” contain adult language and subject matter. Admission to each showing is $5. Tickets are available at the door or can be purchased in advance 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 11-15 in the Memorial Union.

Proceeds will go to the Battered Women Task Force in Topeka and The Women of Katrina.