Just like its bold name, Chapman University’s 2015 production of The Vagina Monologues featured an assemblage of audacious performances celebrating the underdog of women’s bodies. At the mere mention of the V word, most of society blushes or emits nervous giggles, panicking to either change the subject, censor it, or turn it into a joke. Gifted with the abilities to leave their audience bent over in rioting laughter or struck silent in somber, the all-women cast delivered courageous messages about femininity. Taboo topics such as hair from down under and vaginas fed up from being pent up were proclaimed in a series of monologues unto sold-out crowds, without a hint of scarlet on these ladies’ faces. Their bravery contributed to the movement of women’s anatomies being celebrated and openly discussed, rather than sexualized and shamed.
The Vagina Monologues movement began with one woman, Eve Ensler, who engaged 200 women around the globe in conversations about their vaginas and overall womanhood. Chapman’s gifted cast embodied each conversation, leading to a stunning portrayal of these interviewed women.
We asked some of the cast members from The Vagina Monologues a few questions regarding their own personal take on the production. See what they have to say below.
What did you do to help prepare for your role and help you get into character?
Charleen Du: My monologue was interesting in that it wasn’t exactly a story. Instead, I had to find a story within the words and portray that story in my performance. So I would look at the words in the monologue and think about what they meant to me. What I did was try to get really comfortable with the word (cunt) and thought about how I could captivate the audience, while still having a meaningful performance.
Natasha Super: A lot of prep for the role and character came from meetings with the directors. They were able to share insights about the background of my character, and then I would take their advice or ideas and try my best to apply it. Other than that, I would just really sit with this woman and her interview trying to relate my experiences and emotions to hers.
Lindsay Robb: To help prepare for my role, I rehearsed with the directors once a week. A lot of the rehearsal process was more about personal exploration, learning about feminism, and delving into my own identity as a woman so that I could tell the woman’s story from an honest place. I learned so much about myself throughout this process.
How do you hope the production impacted your audience?
Charleen Du: I’ve seen The Vagina Monologues twice since I’ve been at Chapman and “Reclaiming Cunt” was one of the monologues that always stuck with me. I’ll admit that I used to be uncomfortable saying that word, so getting to perform the monologue was such a powerful experience for me. I hope that the production reached out to the audience in a powerful way. Each of these monologues are relatable; some will relate more to others, some less. I hope that the audience didn’t just see the production as a performance, but instead as something greater that they can connect to.
Natasha Super: I hope that the audience got something from the performances, whether that be a reaffirming idea or a new perspective. I don’t expect, nor did I ever expect, all members of the audience to feel as connected to the monologues as the cast and production/direction team did, but I hope there was an openness to the ideas presented. Most of all, though, I hope that because of The Vagina Monologues, the audience is more aware of the importance of these womens’ stories and the importance of hearing stories like these in general.
Lindsay Robb: I hope that seeing the show got the audience thinking. Even if it made them really uncomfortable or if they disagreed with what they heard, I hope the show got them to question how gender roles play an active role in their lives.
If you had to write your own monologue for The Vagina Monologues, what would it be about?
Charleen Du: I can relate in some way to several of the monologues. But if I had to write my own, it would probably be about the journey my vagina has been on from as far back as I can remember. I would write about how certain experiences shape the way it is today.
Natasha Super: If I had to write my own monologue, it would be more of a collaborative piece, really more like a group piece than a monologue. I think it would have lots of questions in it because I’m uncertain about of lot of things. Other than that, I suppose the story is still being written.
Lindsay Robb: If I had to write my own piece for The Vagina Monologues, it would be about a woman’s journey to accept herself as enough just the way she is. I would want to make people question why the patriarchy is breeding insecurity and is detrimental to the confidence and self-love of women. My piece would talk about my own journey to learn about myself as an individual.