XU Theatre’s production illuminates the joys and sorrows of being female
Saturday’s performance of Xavier Theatre’s The Vagina Monologues left the audience moaning for more of its hilarity. As I entered the auditorium, girls in pajamas playfully tossed hacky sacks, spun hula hoops and chugged a bottle of something unholy all while trying on fluorescent pink tutus to set the stage. Soon, the lights fell and the girls began to jump around on a series of vagina-resembling blankets surrounded by the items only the most fabulous of vaginas would wear.
The women rolled in unison into the first monologue. Ellie Deutsch dramatized a snarky old lady with purposeful intonation, accent, and personality. Next, Tina Boffa empowered the female orgasm in a way that was steady, prepared and facially compelling.
Then, the backdrop flashed into an electric red and the audience gasped straight into a deep belly laugh as Connie Kavensky roared, “My vagina is angry.” While all the women were on-book due to the 2 week rehearsal time-crunch, Kavensky clearly got comfortable with her words long before entering the stage. Her performance felt like less of a reading and more of just that, a performance. She grabbed the audience and immediately brought them into a whirlwind of relatable and giggle inducing ranting about shoving cotton tampons in places dry material never ought to go. The audience’s sudden jerk into engagement evidenced the importance of her knowing her lines well.
Kelsey Schwarber waddled up and discussed naming frogs in her childhood, quickly escalating to the vaginal naming rollercoaster that left me ready to pee my pants laughing. Her physical expressions were perfectly reserved yet accented by her comedic timing. Danielle Jacobs had fun discussing an entertaining performance her character had been treated to one night. Next, Olivia Hardy entered and sat center stage, legs spread, grasping the audience by the ovaries with every word. Her heart-wrenching tale dragged my body through the stories of abuse, sexuality and same sex sexual reclamation. I was hooked, sold, and in love by the end of her politically incorrect salvation.
Deutsch repeated the word c*** with at least 30 different cadences followed by anonymous crowd member #42 shouting, “c***” for all the world to hear. Holly Taylor had the entire audience begging for more with her dramatic reenactment of the female orgasm, which certainly unlocked a ‘vital sound’ from the audience. Her performance was so convincing that she might as well have had sex on stage.
The final performance came once again from Taylor, who shifted into a quiet and reserved woman whose body language was in such stark juxtaposition from the last that I had to check to see that I had identified her correctly. After publicly vibrating her legs against the ground while yodeling just 30 seconds before, Taylor sat, knees clasped, shoulders raised and voice lowered, and told the alarming story of childbirth, from the perspective of a newly enlightened woman, about the vulva’s greatest journey. An instant standing ovation sprung from the crowd, including myself, as I sprung to my feet in reverence for womanhood and all its yonic prestige.
The show concluded with a talkback, including remarks from Ellie Coniff, the student director, Taylor, Rachel Chrastil, Associate Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, and Gynecologist Jeanna Corwin.
I passed 3 members of XUPD before taking my seat at Xavier Theatre’s 2019 performance of The Vagina Monologues last Saturday. I would later discover that the pussy policing had much more to do with protecting the controversial play from nay-sayers who had sent Chrastil dozens of calls and E-Mails opposed to the Vagina Monologues being shown at Xavier. Cardinal Newman Society’s attempted 2014 ban of The Vagina Monologues at Xavier resulted in rallies and unification, and this production was no different. To those who expressed their feeling that The Vagina Monologues were “rude and contrary to Catholic teaching,” Chrastil explained the beliefs of Xavier and that “to me, the play is all about women talking to each other and having real, honest conversation and that this play allows us to do that. The Church calls us to listen to people without judgment and that is what we are trying to do here at Xavier.”
By: Brittany Wells | Staff Writer