Marie Richardson: Cast Member in The Vagina Monologues

THE BASICS:Name or Nickname: MarieYear & Age: Junior, 21Hometown: IndianapolisMajor/Minor(s): Telecommunications major; studio art, sociology, communication and culture minorsExtra Curricular Activities: Member of Independent Council and Feminist Student Association; part-time employee at the IU Cinema; creating various student film projectsSister or Independent: IndependentDream Job: Film director, artist

FAVES:Feminist Spokeswoman: bell hooksMovie with a Strong Female Lead: "Blue is the Warmest Color"TV Series with a Strong Female Lead: "Broad City" & "Orange is the New Black""Girl Power" Book: "Cunt" by Inga Muscio is on its way to me from Amazon, suggested to me by some of the other cast members from The Vagina MonologuesGender Studies Course/Lecture/Event: Most recently, Laverne Cox's "Ain't I a Woman" lecture at IU's auditorium"Girl Power" Quote: "The truth is, I often like women. I like their unconventionality. I like their completeness. I like their anonymity." Virginia Woolf

HCIU: For readers who don't know, could you describe what audiences shoudl expect at The Vagina Monologues?MR: Know that the title is very straightforward: These are monologues about vagines. This is not a play; it's a group of women telling their stories based on interviews with over 200 women. In two or three pieces we come together to tell a story, in the majority of the pieces each woman tells her story in a monologue. These stories can be funny, tragic, hopeful or a mix of all three. These are stories of self love, self hate, relationships between a man and a woman, between a woman and a man. Most of all, these stories are truthful.

HCIU: From the Facebook event page, it looks like there's a new monologue this year. Could you provide any commentary to describe the significance behind, "They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy"?MR: Eve Ensler, creator of The Vagina Monologues, had been receiving some flack in recent years because the monologues where not inclusive of transwomen. This is a new piece that gives members of the trans community a voice in The Vagina Monologues. It is a beautiful, powerful, heartbreaking, yet still hopeful account from the perspectives of multiple women regarding the various complexities, struggles and successes experienced by those in the trans community. This is one of my favorite monologues.

HCIU: Could you tell us more about your performance in this year's event specifically?MR: I will be performing a piece called, "The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could." It's a woman reflecting on her childhood and teen years; a story of pain and redemption. I had weekly individual practices with the director as well as full cast practices. The most challenging part of my preparation was figuring out how to connect to the piece; some parts of the story were relatable for me and others were not. I worked on playing up those points of connection and taking my time with those that were more difficult - really seeing the images in the memories in my mind's eye.

HCIU: The Vagina Monologues will benefit Middle Way House and the V-Day Campaign. Could you tell readers more about these organizations/movements?MR: The Middle Way House is a shelter for those who have experience violence. They offer a 24-hour crisis line, emergency shelter, affordable transitional housing, legal advocacy [and] prevention education services. All volunteers must go through a training program; the next one will be held in April. [It] also offers jobs and internships, which are posted on [its] website.

The V-Day Campaign is "a global movement to end violence against women and girls." Productions of The Vagina Monologues benefit the campaign both through the spreading of ideas and monetarily through ticket prices. The campaign also organizes a variety of other movements, which can be found at www.vday.org.

HCIU: The Vagina Monologues are hosted by the IU Feminist Student Association. As a member, could you describe the organization to Hoosier Collegiettes?MR: The IU Feminist Student Association is a student-led organization working to eliminate sexism and oppression. We hold presentations, panels, debates and other educational programs addressing feminist issues. These often take place during FSA meetings. We also fundraise through events - like The Vagina Monologues - share information regarding opportunities for organizations - like the Middle Way House and Planned Parenthood - and participate in activism/raise awareness for feminist issues through events, like the Slut Walk. It is a support group and social group for feminists on IU's campus to come together. Visit our Facebook group [to] learn more about what we're about and how to get involved.

HCIU: Lastly, how has the IU Feminist Student Association and The Vagina Monologues affected your IU experience or life in general?MR: Through my studies at IU and my increasing awareness that I will be entering the extremely male-dominated movie industry after graduation, my awareness of the problem of gender policing and inequality has heightened since coming to IU. The amount of sexually aggressive behavior I am witness and subject to in this new, party-heavy and often alcohol fueled college environment has also heightened my sensitivities to these issues. Troubled by what I was learning in class and seeing/experiencing outside of it, FSA was (and is) hope. FSA has given me opportunities, including The Vagina Monologues, to learn more about these issues, to meet a community of like-minded individuals and to participate in community activism to empower women and gender-non-conforming individuals.

* Photos courtesy of the IUFSA Facebook and Marie Richardson