Every year at BU, a group of powerful women join together to present to the community “The Vagina Monologues.” It is an empowering experience both for the audience and the phenom females that put on the production. Lauren Linn, a senior studying Psychology and Philosophy at BU, has been involved with “VagMo” for three years. Aside from this production, she is also involved in BU On Broadway and Stage Troupe, is the president of Omega Phi Alpha, and is a Resident Assistant. I talked to her about her experience with “VagMo” and how it has affected her.
How long have you been involved in VagMo and what prompted you to join the production?
My freshman year I saw The Vagina Monologues and it was the first time I ever saw women articulate their experiences so honestly and bluntly. Just sitting in the audience and listening made me feel less alone in my experiences as a woman. It inspired me to start deep conversations pertaining to feminism, the realities of womanhood, and everything between and beyond with those around me, and from there I found greater unity with the women in my life.
My sophomore year I knew I had to try everything in my ability to be a part of the show. I auditioned and was cast as the performer for the Flood monologue. The following year, I had the honor of serving as the Assistant Director on the production. Now, as a senior, I will wrap up my four years at BU as the Director of the 2018 Production of the Vagina Monologues.
Has anything really changed since you started?
This is a really difficult question because for the most part we are met with kindness, respect, and love, but there are also a few people who approach us with coldness. For instance, last year when I tabled in the GSU, a group of guys walked over and told me they thought The Vagina Monologues was “f***ing stupid” and we should “be good women and just keep quiet.” My response was to offer to buy their tickets to the show.
Since I started with Vag Mo, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States and much of our nation has been reeling in response. This year, when I asked why people want to be a part of Vag Mo, I was met with many similar answers along the lines of, “because I need to try and do something to help.” I suppose the short answer is that as our nation and politics have changed, our activism has enhanced and we feel more of a call to action than ever before.
What is your favorite part of VagMo season?
Vag Mo exists as this really beautiful and unique separate entity of BU theatre and BU in general. It’s a community and production that other groups respect and support, and one that people come to be a part of year after year whether as performers, crew, or as audience members. I have two favorite parts of Vag Mo season, the first being the first rehearsal when the Director(s) distribute the monologues and do the first read through.
When we cast our show we do not inform those involved what monologues they’ll be performing, just that they have been cast. At the first rehearsal we say some kind words about the person and then do a little drum roll and then announce which piece they have. The whole room lights up, the performer has a look of sheer excitement, and there is honestly no better sight to see as a Director. Then we do a read through and everyone can finally hear the show from start to finish. There are laughs, cries, applause, and you can feel the unity building in the room.
My second favorite part is before the last show when we do our final “vagina check in”. A vagina check-in is when we sit in a circle and talk about how our vagina — whether it be the physical vagina or “vagina within” — is feeling or what it is thinking that day. For the final check-in, we’re in a very unique headspace being that we are wrapping up three to four weeks of a transformative process that feels as though its ending as quickly as it started. Everyone holds each other close in a way they never thought they could when we began.
My goal as a member of the Vagina Monologues is to lead those involved not toward a great performance, but toward authentic connections between one another and all others who enter their lives. If these women come out of Vag Mo feeling less alone in the world and in their experiences, then Vag Mo was a success.
How has VagMo changed you as a person?
When people ask me this, I always tell them that the Vagina Monologues gave me a platform, but the people involved gave me a purpose. When I entered this community I was sitting with years and years of experiences I never dared to open up about to others. I wanted to be strong and empowered like my female role models, but felt so far from it. I just didn’t know how or where to begin.
Vag Mo held my hand and walked me through the process of self-love and acceptance. It then let me do the same thing for others through the last two years. I learned how to turn my less-than-ideal experiences from my past into things that empower me and allow me to connect with those around me. I do not shy away from difficult conversations anymore. On the contrary, I initiate them. The Vagina Monologues community taught me that empowered women empower women, and gave me the platform to do exactly that.
What is your favorite part of this year’s show?
This year we are ending the show differently than ever before. I don’t want to give too much away, but we’re closing on a piece that Eve Ensler wrote and revises annually called Over It. It is blunt, sometimes impolite, validating, and exactly what our audience and world need to hear right now. I think it will leave a lasting remark that will lead to crucial conversations among those who see it.
Why should people watch VagMo this year?
People should watch Vag Mo this year because it is an informative and invaluable piece of feminist history— and it’s also a really awesome show! All the people involved have put so much time and dedication into it, and it’s resulted in a phenomenal finished product. Audience members get to support the arts and feminism all at once!
If there’s one thing you want people (both in the show and watching) to take away from the production, what is it?
I want everyone to know that the era of women having to pipe down in order to be liked or respected is over. We will pipe up. We will demand nothing but the utmost respect for ourselves because we know our value. We will stand together and create the largest and most beautiful resistance against sexism and misogyny than ever before. The question at hand is whether you will too. If you declare yourself an ally then this is your fight just as much as it is ours. If you don’t declare yourself an ally, then — just like those men in the GSU last year — let me buy your ticket to The Vagina Monologues and let’s talk.
If you haven’t already gotten your ticket for “VagMo” 2018, the show goes on from February 15 to 17. Tickets are on sale now on Eventbrite.