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SMC develops new version of Ensler’s play

Meg Cassidy | Monday, January 24, 2005

Eve Ensler’s famous and infamous The Vagina Monologues has become synonymous with both the feminist revolution and controversially sexual subject matter. However, with respect to its continued popularity, individuals at Saint Mary’s College have decided that the time has come to present a new adaptation called SMC Monologues.

For the first time in five years, Saint Mary’s students, faculty and staff have put Ensler’s version aside in lieu of one that will apply more directly to the College community. The project’s co-coordinator, junior Ginger Francis, says a fresh look at the subject matter will “bring the issues closer to home.”

The Saint Mary’s Campus Alliance for Rape Elimination (CARE) is the main sponsor of the event, performances of which will be held in Carroll Auditorium on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 27 at 2 p.m.

The idea for this production came about through informal conversations among CARE members who said they wanted to inspire the community to heighten discussion on issues surrounding female sexuality.

Catherine Pittman, psychology professor and faculty advisor to CARE, said, “[We] wanted to facilitate discussion about topics relevant to women’s sexuality because of the club’s commitment to the goal of raising awareness about issues related to sexual assault.”

Pittman and the other CARE members said they have high hopes about what this project will do for the “personal and social growth of students.”

Francis, also the president of CARE, said enthusiasm for the project has been constant and “more than expected” ever since an e-mail announcement last week asked for individual submissions and personal participation. Since they hope to include anyone interested in helping, Francis said there will be no audition process, and people are encouraged to come forward and volunteer in whatever way they want to.

The format of SMC Monologues will most likely mirror that of the successful Vagina Monologues, but because the submissions of personal reflections are still coming in, a selection process will need to take place before the specifics can be established and rehearsed. Pittman said they are hoping it will be a “communal process” in order to truly represent Saint Mary’s as a whole.

All of the personal submissions are read anonymously and can be sent as such, although some individual information is encouraged in order to provide each vignette some context for the audience’s understanding. The deadline for writing submissions is Jan. 28.

In the past, The Vagina Monologues has been a source of controversy at Saint Mary’s campus, when its performance was briefly forbidden. Because of its more personal nature, and this version may prove to be even more provocative.

However, Francis said they have received nothing but encouragement and support from the entire community, and Pittman said she hopes the benefits of creating such a personal perspective with this performance will be far-reaching.

“When women take the risk to share their experiences, they are often surprised at the number of people who have had similar experiences or who want to provide support and concern,” Pittman said. “We encourage women to speak up, to write, to be bold and adventurous, and that’s what this project is all about.”

Jennifer Hanlon, the vice president of CARE, said this is a “topic people want to talk about but they haven’t had the chance.” She said the hope is that the performance will initiate good discussions and further awareness, with the possibility of an open forum the following week to reflect on the performances.

Francis said people have been contacting her continuously and she is thrilled with the community’s response and willingness to be involved.

“I think this is something our campus needs,” she said.

Pittman agreed, and said, “Sometimes it is difficult for women to share their concerns, and as a result, women often believe they are alone in their questions.”

Francis recognized that the original Monologues might seem irrelevant to some women, but her hopes for this production is that “it’s not foreign because it’s a story about us and that’s what will make it so powerful.”

The excitement for the developing project has spread rapidly, and other campus groups have joined up as co-sponsors – including CWIL, Student Diversity Board and Feminists United – making it what Pittman calls a true “communal process.”