Last night and continuing tonight, V-Day at Barnard College premiered The Vagina Monologues featuring an all self-identified women of color cast. The announcement of the choice to use a cast of “self-identified women of color” proved a bit controversial this fall. A Bwogger with a vagina went out to the opening night last night to see what all the fuss was about. The show will close tonight with a performance at 10:30pm in the Roone Arledge Auditorium. See the Facebook event for more info.
I had no idea what to expect coming into the show as I purposefully tried to keep myself from searching for some background. I was correct in my general thoughts on the show—it would be about women and vaginas. However, the show went beyond the posters next to Well-Women, or the awkward conversation your RA tries to start every semester about how we need to become “clitorally vagenius.” The Vagina Monologues takes a deep look at something we keep forgetting: women have vaginas and we can’t ignore them.
There isn’t much to talk about in terms of the normal theatre review. Of course there was lighting and whatnot, but there was no detailed set or perfectly hemmed costumes. Instead, this show was truly about not even the actors, but the words they were saying. The show made sure that the stars were the monologues. However, it would be hard to ignore the intensity and heart that came with the female performers for each monologue, including stories by real women about issues women have continued to sweep under the rug to not “offend” anyone. Not enough can be said about the monologues in general; they are by far the most powerful words that will be said on a Columbia stage this year.
The production was directed and produced by Dorian Barnwell CC ’15 and Victoria Durden BC ’15 as well as produced by Anita Warner BC. In The Vagina Monologues section of the show, one of the performer’s* rendition of “My Angry Vagina” earned more than enough snaps from the audience, including when she perfectly described the hatred that comes with having to stick dry cotton up your vagina once a month. Another outstanding performance came from Evy Kenya Exime CC ’17, who performed “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could.” An actor prefaced the monologue with a trigger warning and prepared the audience for what was a breathtaking and difficult story. On the side of “The Snatchchats,” Joya Ahmad SEAS ’15 wrote several of the poems, including the passionate “An Open Letter to the Working Girls of New York,” which Ahmad performed herself.
I know we can’t ignore the controversy that the choice to cast all women of color generated. Almost every ethnicity was represented. To be honest, I forgot it was a thing. Of course much of the stories, particularly the monologues in the feature “The Snatchchats” following the show, did focus on issues pertaining to women of color in this country, but for much of the actual Vagina Monologues it was not focused on the race of the performer. Looking back on the performance, it was a nice change from the white washed casts that typically grace the Columbia stage.
The Barnard/Columbia V-Day puts on the monologues every year, and every year it is deservedly praised. We should all be very proud to be classmates with the women that presented these monologues.
*This performer requested to not be named in this review for personal reasons.
Poster via Facebook Event