Volume 97 Issue 7 News

Juniata performs Ensler’s episodic play

by Jessica Ware

On Feb. 27 and 28, Juniata showcased the play “The Vagina Monologues” in the Ellis ballroom in celebration of V-Day.

“V-Day is a global movement that was started in the wake of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and it is an annual event where people put on benefit performances. It is a chance to help with violence against women,” said Julia McMurry, a junior at Juniata College and the organizer of the campus V-Day event.

“‘The Vagina Monologues’ is actually a play written in the early 1990s by a woman named Eve Ensler. She wanted to explore women’s experiences in a different way than they are presented on stage. She actually went out into the world and sat down with real women and interviewed them about their experiences. Then she wrote this series of vignettes based on that,” said McMurry. “It’s a play, but it is also a project as a part of V-Day. For it, we are trying to raise awareness for violence against women and help by donating our proceeds to Huntington House.”

Two clubs, PAX-O, the peace and conflict studies club, and AAUW, American Association of University Women, helped with the production of “The Vagina Monologues.”  “They talk about what the experience is as a woman going through life, what kind of challenges come up. They also talk about the really good things about being a woman. There are stories that involve little girls being asked things like ‘if your vagina were to wear something, what would she wear?’ Some say, ‘she would wear a pink bow or a diamond.’ There are also stories that are really intense that are about sexual assault and rape,” said senior Hannah Jeffery, president of PAX-O.

“There are some monologues that are problematic. These are real women’s stories and they may not be politically correct. They may have elements that seem disturbing or wrong or they are kind of shocking. I think that is important to talk about it,” said McMurry.

“I think it is something that most women can relate a lot to,” said Alexandra Bubak, a junior who auditioned for “The Vagina Monologues.”

“When I heard about it, I was like, ‘that sounds amazing.’ I read the script and it was really empowering, so I wanted to do one of the roles,” said Olivia Stentz, a sophomore who also auditioned for the play.

Not just students are involved in “The Vagina Monologues.” “Juniata College has a long history of trying to be involved with women’s issues. This is a great way to raise awareness and to provide an advocate outlet,” said Jessica Maxon, director of community service and service learning.  

When Maxon attended Juniata, she used to direct “The Vagina Monologues.” “We did them annually. They are monologues that are unchanging, so it is difficult to have the same play every year in such a small institution. The idea would be that we would drop it back to every other year, and that was the year that I graduated in 2009, but there really wasn’t anybody to pick up the charge,” said Maxon.   

“This is something that I had wanted to do, personally, for a while. I think the reason we are doing it is for the reasons that V-Day exists in the first place,” said McMurry.  

“I was approached by Julia McMurry at the beginning of the semester. She was familiar with ‘The Vagina Monologues.’ She had heard a rumor that was true that I had directed them when I went to school here and that I had some knowledge of ‘The Vagina Monologues,’” said Maxon.

When asked how she feels about Juniata showcasing “The Vagina Monologues,” McMurry said, “I am really excited for it. There are a lot of schools where this is an annual event. The fact that it hasn’t been for a while for us is an opportunity. Some people don’t know what ‘The Vagina Monologues’ are, and even just the title is kind of in your face.”

“I have been wanting to do this since I was a freshman because I knew it happened on other college campuses.  I talked to Julia McMurry, who is in both PAX-O and AAUW, and she sort of has taken this on. She is the main organizer,” said Jeffery.  “She has been working tirelessly organizing this. I was just support for her.”

When asked why they are doing “The Vagina Monologues” now, McMurry said, “Every February, Eve Ensler gives the royalties for the performance, which is what allows us to perform it for free during this month. As a result, we collect money and are able to give it to Huntington House who are our beneficiaries. Specifically at this time in history, I think that there is sometimes a perception that women’s issues are no longer issues and that we have made all the gains that we can make so far. The fact that a lot of people are still uncomfortable talking about these things, talking about their vaginas, saying that word out loud, speaks to some progress that needs to be made.”

“I am hoping that this raises awareness about the reality of the experiences of women not just in the United States, but in the whole world. I hope this raises awareness for those who are unfortunate, like through rape, sexual assault and sexism. I also hope that it expresses the beauty of the feminine and what it means to be a woman,” said Jeffery.

“It is my hope that Juniata College continues these conversations among students, faculty and staff. That we continue to talk about women’s issues all across the world and we start acting locally and thinking globally as we move forward,” said Maxon.

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