“The Vagina Monologues”
Saturday, 8:30 p.m.
After the weekend’s icy weather forced the group to cancel their first night of performances on Friday, VDAY Carolina presented “The Vagina Monologues” to a sold-out crowd on Saturday night. Co-directors for the English production Katie Byerly and Amanda Baldiga began the evening with a warm welcome for their thawing audience and the show only got hotter from that point on.
“The Vagina Monologues” features an all-female cast who portray a variety of characters based on over 200 women interviewed by the play’s author, Eve Ensler. The stories they tell touch on countless subjects including sex, masturbation, rape, gender, orgasm, prostitution, love, birth and more. Most of the monologues are controversial and intentionally challenge the audience to rethink what it means to be a woman.
Many of the most memorable moments in the show were found in the group pieces, some of which were arranged by the directors. A duologue performed by Madiha Bhatti and Jessica Smith (“My Vagina Was My Village”) was particularly poignant, and the use of the full ensemble in the opening and closing pieces was powerful. Additional UNC-specific references were a crowd-pleaser, from moans of ‘Go to hell, Duke’ to references to the P2P. ‘The Vagina Workshop,’ performed by Alice Drozdiak, was a comedic gem and a crowd favorite.
As a whole, the performance was far more interactive than a typical theatre piece, breaking down the fourth wall and engaging directly with the audience for the duration of the show. The cast entered from the aisles, got up close and personal during their monologues and made the audience feel like they were hearing these intimate stories firsthand from the women who inspired the characters.
The show employed an effectively minimal set — a stair unit, two benches and a chair — that actors used during different monologues to add variety. They even managed to work in the Hanes Art Center’s piano, which cannot be removed from the space, by accompanying a faux dream ballet during “The Flood.” The cast was casually dressed, primarily in black with pops of color — most sported pink or red accessories, which added visual interest without seeming contrived.
The cast and crew of both productions persevered through an unexpected, difficult situation. Facing severely limited access to their performance space and technical equipment during the snowy days leading up to the show, both teams were impressively adaptive. The Spanish version of the show — presented for the first time last year — was heavily impacted by the Friday night cancellation. While the English show was slated to run for three days, “Los Monologos de la Vagina” was only scheduled for Friday and Saturday night — making this year’s rendition of the Spanish show a one-night-only event.
Each year “The Vagina Monologues” sparks conversations that don’t stop at the theatre doors. This year’s cast did a heartfelt job of bringing these stories to life, engaging the audience and making it clear that the Monologues is a UNC staple performance, come rain or snow.
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