SHIRA KARSEN / THE EAGLE
This year’s “Vagina Monologues” left both the audience and performers on the verge of tears, as AU sophomore Kyla Novell channeled Haitian feminist and political activist Myriam Merlet in one moving performance on Feb. 18.
Merlet, who brought “Vagina Monologues” to the island country, died in last year’s earthquake.
The “Vagina Monologues” is a play of about 20 monologues that focus on topics related to the vagina, such as menstruation, rape and birth. Eve Ensler wrote the play in 1996 to raise funds and awareness for violence against women.
Ensler was a friend of Merlet and used her story in this year’s performances.
The main monologue described the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti and the dangerous circumstances women endured.
“Women, hardly clothed, grabbed by hungry, angry men, filled with babies not their own,” said Novell, a sophomore in the School of Communication, as Merlet.
Women’s Initiative performed the “Vagina Monologues” for the seventh year Feb. 17-19, raising over $4,500. This year’s monologues focused on the women and girls of Haiti.
While this monologue left Novell almost in tears and the audience awestruck, it was not the only performance to have such an effect.
“My Vagina was My Village,” which honored a Bosnian women who was brutally raped by soldiers, silenced the entire audience with its graphic content.
“Six of the monstrous doctors with black masks shoving bottles up me too,” School of International Service freshman Mica Brenman said in the performance. “There were sticks and the end of a broom.”
Although some monologues touched on grave issues such as sexual assault, others were more light-hearted.
“No smell,” a performer said to describe what one lady said when asked what her vagina smelled like.
“Yeah right!” an audience member shouted back, eliciting laughs from the performer and audience.
The “Vagina Monologues’” director Nirvana Habash chose the order of monologues to have the best effect on the audience.
“Nirvana decided to open with some funny ones, then group all the serious ones together so the audience could feel the weight of it, and end with good ones,” said Women’s Initiative Director Quinn Pregliasco.
While the “Vagina Monologues” are performed with the same script throughout the world, Women’s Initiative added some of their own lines to make it more personal for AU.
“And the AU moan — ‘I am the sex wonk!’” screamed School of Public Affairs senior Emily Beyer in her imitation of other women’s moans in her monologue, “The Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy.”
The audience cheered and laughed as performers cat-whistled at their cast mate.
Despite the sexually intimate topics this play discussed, SIS freshman Chelsea Cohen said she felt comfortable with the cast.
“It wasn’t awkward at all,” she said. “There were definitely bits that I could not have said, but I was comfortable with all of it.”
The cast will donate the profits from each of the three performances to the D.C. Rape Crisis Center; Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, an organization that provides basic necessities and support for prostitutes who want to pursue normal jobs; and Courtney’s House, a transitional housing for sexually assaulted women.