Auditions for the annual performance of “The Vagina Monologues” will take place 6-8 p.m. Friday in the Arena Theater in Shoup Hall. Previous theater experience is not required. Women will be cast in speaking roles and transgender women are encouraged to audition. Men are welcome to participate behind-the-scenes and with other events involved with V-Day. The show will take place during the first weekend of February.
The proceeds of “The Vagina Monologues” funds efforts to end domestic violence and violence against women, said Lysa Salsbury, director of the University of Idaho Women’s Center.
“Our beneficiary is always Alternatives to Violence in the Palouse,” Salsbury said. “The Women’s Center retains a portion of the proceeds to help fund our anti-violence initiatives the following school year. So, we pay for Take Back the Night … and any programs related to Domestic Violence Awareness Month or Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”
Max Cowan, ASUI president, is this year’s director and helped with the play last year.
“Everyone who comes to audition will be given the opportunity to be involved in “The Vagina Monologues,”” Cowan said. “The goal of it is really to be inclusive … we want as many people involved as possible in changing people’s hearts and minds about the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault and gender-based violence.”
Cowan said he is unsure how many people will be cast in the monologues this year.
“That depends on who comes to audition and what kind of cast we can build off of that,” Cowan said.
Cowan said if students are not cast in a speaking role or do not feel comfortable being on a stage, there are other opportunities to get involved with the V-Day campaign. For example, the V-Squad works on promoting TVM as well as bringing awareness to related global issues and everyone is welcome and encouraged to join, Cowan said.
This year Cowan has some new ideas for the production and staging of “The Vagina Monologues.”
“I’m very interested in having it be … more theatrical,” Cowan said. “Not in the sense that it is over acted or too dramatized or necessarily a caricature of the experiences. But I would like to see it be more dynamic. I think in this past year “The Vagina Monologues” were moving in a really wonderful direction here at the University of Idaho.”
Cowan said, in the past, there was a more involved set that was designed to emulate the sensation of a living room with comfortable sofas and rugs that added to the atmosphere of the performances.
“So expanding on that idea is really very exciting for me,” Cowan said. “So taking it the next step to be a little more realistic and actually trying to visually represent the idea through the course of the monologues and through the course of the experience of all the women in the monologues and all the performers is the idea that they move … from a place of oppression to a place of empowerment. So visually representing that through the staging I think is a really exciting opportunity.”
As well as new set ideas, there will be a new addition to the script this year. In addition, original “The Vagina Monologues” playwright Eve Ensler writes a spotlight monologue that highlights a specific issue about violence against women that is performed at the show in February.
“That monologue is forthcoming,” Cowan said. “So we know there will be something new, but at this moment, we are not aware what that monologue will be. So that’s a sort of exciting thing to look forward to.”
The play originated from a one-woman show performed by Ensler in an off-Broadway theater in New York City in 1996. Ensler wrote the play based on interviews that she had conducted with over 200 women of all ages, races, national origins and sexual orientations. The interviews were about the women’s relationship with their vaginas and the related positive and negative experiences they had during their lives.
“(Ensler) compiled the interviews into a series of monologues that she then did a dramatic reading of,” Salsbury said. “The show was very well received and in 1998 there was an on-Broadway production that was cast with a number of well known Hollywood actresses and from there it just exploded into a world-wide movement.”
Salsbury said “The Vagina Monologues” is produced annually in more than 6,000 locations and 140 countries around the world.
“She decided to start V-Day which has become, now, a global movement to end violence against women, and the proceeds for productions of The Vagina Monologues that happen all over the world are used towards on the ground projects drastic projects that are actively working to end violence against women all over the world.”
Salsbury said TVM was first performed in Moscow in 2002 by a student organization called FLAME — Feminist Led Activism Movement to Empower.
The Women’s Center was unable to produce the play at that time, however, Salsbury said they supported the group and the production. After the 2006 show, FLAME disbanded and in 2008 a different student group also supported by the Women’s Center took over the production. Then in 2009 the Women’s Center produced the show and has been doing so every year since.
“The show is almost entirely student run,” Salsbury said. “It is directed by students, the students form the majority of the cast members, a student designs the posters, every aspect of it pretty much is run by the students. The Women’s Center’s role is purely as the production logistical piece … we help coordinate, we help provide start-up funds, we help with advertising. But, really it’s a student production.”
Amber Evans Pinel can be reached at email@example.com.