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Monologues return to College

Kelly Meehan | Friday, February 16, 2007

For the third consecutive year, the Saint Mary’s community will gather to share stories of hope, sexuality and femininity during two weekend performances of the SMC Monologues. Modeled after Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” the SMC Monologues will tell personal stories submitted by members of the College’s community – addressing issues that affect women on a daily basis, Monologues producer and director Renee Woodward said. “Our monologues don’t just scratch the surface of issues facing Saint Mary’s women,” she said. “They dive head-first into them and make a big splash.”While the event has the beginnings of a campus tradition in its third year, Woodward acknowledges that not all members of the campus community embrace the annual performance – something she said she hopes to change. “I would like those who may not embrace this type of performance and dialogue to come with an open mind and heart and truly see this production for what it is,” she said. SMC Monologues faculty advisor Catherine Pittman mirrored Woodward’s mission of promoting the necessity of the Monologues within the community – a production she deemed more powerful than “The Vagina Monologues.””On this campus there is no better way to learn about the diversity of Saint Mary’s women’s experiences with their own sexuality,” she said. While Pittman stressed “The Vagina Monologues” are not banned on the College campus, she said the SMC Monologues’ unique approach has received praise from both Saint Mary’s administration and Ensler. This powerful performance has received a lot of national attention, she said, and has been presented at academic conferences in New York, California and Wisconsin. “We have been directly contacted by colleges interested in following our model,” she said. “In fact, one college even requested that we allow them to perform some of our monologues.”As the monologues highlight the diverse experiences of Saint Mary’s students, both Pittman and Woodward said the performance also works to demolish stereotypes. “The production has a potential to open one’s eyes to what a Saint Mary’s woman is really all about and debunk the stereotypes,” Woodward said.The SMC Monologues were the perfect way for Woodward to channel her interest in women’s issues, she said, and those involved with the production are “doing nothing wrong or immoral. We’re telling the stories written by the community.”Although Pittman acknowledged “the vast majority of individuals on campus are supportive or neutral about the Monologues,” it is the skillful writing of the student submissions that has gained the SMC Monologues respect amongst the faculty, she said. “Faculty have seen it as a production reflecting women’s leadership and academic freedom,” she said – the exact issue that has drawn the Vice President of Student Affairs Karen Johnson to attend the weekend performance. “College campuses are the most appropriate places to share ideas and exchange points of view,” she said. “It’s all about learning.”The learning process began when College faculty, staff, students and alumnae anonymously submitted their personal stories during November, December and January. A panel comprised of faculty, staff and students evaluated the 15 submissions and chose eight new monologues for this year’s performance, Pittman said. While the audience anticipates eight new monologues, Pittman said some of the “classics” from past years will be included in the performance. “We couldn’t do without the famous ‘Valerie Vagina,'” she said. The performance – sponsored by Feminists United and the Women’s Resource Center – will take place Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in Carroll Auditorium. There is a suggested $3 admission donation for the S.O.S rape crisis center at Madison Center in South Bend.