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SMC to host own version of ‘Monologues’

Katie Kohler | Friday, February 15, 2008

Coming on the heels of “V-Day” – the global movement to stop violence against women sparked by Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues – the Saint Mary’s community will gather for the fourth consecutive year to perform the SMC Monologues tomorrow at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Carroll Auditorium.

The Monologues were written by students, faculty, staff, Sisters and alumnae, producer Becki Faunce said.

“All writers are anonymous to protect their identities around potentially sensitive subject areas and to promote the fact that these could be anyone’s stories,” she said.

This year, there are eight students, one faculty member and one alumnae performing the Monologues.

While they were inspired by Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, they are distinctly different, Faunce said.

“They are similar in that women discuss their experiences of sexuality, relationships, among many other elements that shaped their lives,” she said. “The SMC Monologues provide a safe place for women to give a voice to these experiences – both positive and negative – but always empowering.

“The most important difference is that the SMC Monologues has a very local focus – these are the stories of Saint Mary’s – the voices of Saint Mary’s.  The Vagina Monologues is a great play, however we feel that the SMC Monologues are a better fit for Saint Mary’s as they reflect the stories of our women.”

The Monologues have been successful over the past few years, attracting more than 300 people last year, Faunce said.

Associate professor of psychology Catherine Pittman, and faculty advisor to the Monologues, recognizes that what sets the SMC Monologues apart from the Vagina Monologues is its local focus.

“The Monologues follow the same tradition [of Ensler’s], allowing a variety of women’s voices to be heard,” she said. “The difference here is that all of the stories, all of the experiences, are those of members of the Saint Mary’s Community. The stories have happened in a place that we are familiar with and in the lives of those people who we may know. These are our stories, reflecting our experiences.”

Saint Mary’s first pioneered the idea of writing their own monologues four years ago to characterize the unheard voices of the community, Pittman said.

“This reflects the comfort and competency with writing that characterizes our campus.”

This year, IUSB is following Saint Mary’s model as it debuts the first-annual Michiana Monologues.

“We are excited to see this idea catch on,” Pittman said.

Pittman recognizes the importance of the Monologues to create a venue for discussion and a place to further the College’s mission.

“As a college that is very concerned with promoting women’s leadership, Saint Mary’s continually encourages our women to find their voices, and to speak out, even when the topic is controversial. Women’s sexuality is a sensitive topic, but it is also a critically important one that should not be neglected,” she said. “These monologues facilitate greater openness about women’s sexuality, and encourage students to think critically about their attitudes toward their bodies, their sexuality, and their relationships. The SMC Monologues is an attempt to provoke more thought and discussion about a topic that is often taboo.”

While the subject matter is “taboo,” Pittman has not sensed any opposition from college administrators about performing them on campus and does not expect any in the future.

“Our administration would not prevent students from performing the Vagina Monologues, and if we wanted to do them, we are sure that we could,” she said. “We do the SMC Monologues because we feel that they are more relevant and meaningful to our community, and even though it takes more effort to write, review, and select monologues, we feel it is worth the effort.”

Faunce echoed her sentiments, noting that the Monologues are a critical opportunity to both unite the College and voice the unheard.

“Women’s voices should not and cannot be silenced. We need to use each change to recognize and celebrate our experiences as women,” she said. “If our experiences are played down and neglected, we cannot move forward.”

The dates of the performance coincide with V-Day, Feb. 14, to further cement the message of empowering women and hearing their stories, Pittman said.

“We are following the tradition of V-Day, choosing a similar time,” she said. “Also, in the same tradition, we will be giving all the proceeds to a rape crisis center in South Bend.”

There is a $3 suggested donation to S.O.S., which is the only sexual assault crisis helpline in St. Joseph County.