It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of a crowd and talk about domestic violence, genocide, rape and sexual abuse. That’s just what a group of Heidelberg students will do as the university presents its adaptation of Eve Ensler’s play, “The Vagina Monologues,” Thursday night. The play was first staged at Heidelberg in 2007 and was well-received.
Ensler wrote “The Vagina Monologues” in 1996. It is an episodic play performed by various female characters who relate personal accounts about these raw yet sensitive issues that affect women around the world.
In conjunction with the play, a movement called V-Day was initiated to raise money and awareness to help female victims of sexual abuse and violence. This has led to the documentary “Until The Violence Stops,” along with walks, marches and festivals. In the past 10 years, the movement has gone international.
Heidelberg’s production is directed by graduate resident coordinator Mike Giacolone, who is debuting as a director. “'The Vagina Monologues’ was assigned as a semester project through my graduate assistantship in the Student Activities Office,” he said, “Part of the play requires an inclusion of the ‘male voice.’ My work as director and the support of men backstage and out front the day of the show bring that voice.”
Giacolone assembled an eclectic group of women for the powerful and emotional show. “We have first-year students all the way through seniors, a graduate student, a staff member and the wife of a faculty member here. When selecting cast members, I was looking for confidence.”
Junior Jackie Scheufler is doing three monologues in the show, including “Wear and Say,” “The Vagina Workshop,” and “The Memory of Her Face.” The last is the most powerful out of the three, as it talks about the crimes against women that are happening in the Middle East. “I’m learning a lot about how different women view being a woman,” Scheufler said, “The show is really powerful and I’m happy to be part of it.”
Sophomore Maggie Kesling is performing “I Was in the Room.” “I get to relay a woman’s emotional experience of the birth of her granddaughter,” she said. “Some of the women on the cast I knew before the show and some women I just met. Every woman in the cast is unique in her own right, from different ages, to different majors and different social circles. During rehearsal, we can put all of the differences behind us which will help make the show amazing.”
Tragically, the Heidelberg community lost one of the cast members in “The Vagina Monologues” on Monday, Feb. 21. Maggie Kesling died in an auto accident. The interview for this article was conducted several days prior to Maggie’s passing. We chose to include her comments in honor of her commitment to the show and its messages.
Chaylene Hardy, a freshman, explains “The Vagina Monologues” at the beginning of the show. Hardy and two others tell about its origins, the various names for “vagina” and the problematic opinions of others. “Being in the opening monologue allows you to set the tone of the show,” she said, “I am also honored to be a part of such an amazing show that touches many people.”
“The cast has an excellent dynamic,” Scheufler added. “We all bring different things to the show… this is one of the shows that really causes people to think. By the same token, I’m hoping that it’s really well received by the audience.”
“The Vagina Monologues” is intended to be informative, funny, thought-provoking and a bit uncomfortable. The various pieces are drawn from the experiences of hundreds of women around the world, Giacalone said. “I am appreciative of all the Heidelberg women who stepped up and accepted the challenge of such a difficult piece. It is my hope that these monologues will inspire us all to stand up and take action against violence towards women.”
The remainder of the cast includes Liz Kurtzman, Brittany Green, Rachael DeRosa, Monica Bryant, Diana Amaya, Erin Crenshaw, Deanna Laubis, Heather Jones, Sandy Kimmel, Amanda Honer and Natasha Hopkins.
Show time is 7 p.m. in Ohl Concert Hall. The production is free for Heidelberg students. Tickets are $6 at the door for faculty, staff, and community members. All proceed go to Open Arms—Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Findlay.