Victoria College to present "The Vagina Monologues" in support of V-Day


Jan. 18, 2011 at 7:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 18, 2011 at 7:19 p.m.

JoAnn Henkel gives it her all while rehearsing for "The Vagina Monologues."

JoAnn Henkel gives it her all while rehearsing for "The Vagina Monologues."

When Gwendolyn Wooley told her parents the name of the play she was cast in, the tension was almost palpable. Then again, it's not every day you hear the word "vagina" thrown around in everyday conversation.

Wooley is one of 13 cast members in Victoria College's upcoming production of "The Vagina Monologues," the award-winning play by Eve Ensler.

Debuted in 1996, the play is based on Ensler's interviews with more than 200 women and features a series of monologues that encompass a range of issues and emotions centered around the female genitalia.

"When I talk to my family about it, you can see the tension, and here I am thinking 'what's the big deal?' There is a big gap in generations when it comes to a play like this," Wooley said. "My parents' generation was very hush-hush about it, whereas my generation is starting to shy away from that. We're talking about it. We're opening it up."

Jui Mharte, another cast member, found that out firsthand once rehearsals began.

"Before doing this, the word vagina was almost like a secret. I was restrained from saying it when I was growing up, and I would not say it openly," she said. "But now, saying it makes me happy. This experience has made me very happy about being a woman."

The candid language and subject matter of "The Vagina Monologues" has made the play controversial from the very beginning. Performances all across the country, many times on college campuses, have been protested over the years.

But cast member JoAnn Henkel said she thinks times are changing in South Texas.

"I think Victoria is ready. Even if there's just been a miniscule paradigm shift, the city is starting to get more open-minded," Henkel said. "In the play itself, there is a line that goes something like 'Women secretly love to talk about their vaginas. It's just no one has ever asked them before.' I love that line. The play is very ballsy in that way. No pun intended."

There has been some negative reactions to the college doing the play already, surprisingly mostly from women, Victoria College English professor and director of the show, Lisa DeVries said.

But doing the play isn't just for shock value. The performances on Feb. 11 and 12 are tied to V-Day, a global activist movement started by Ensler to stop violence against women and girls.

Every spring, events are held all over the country in support of the movement.

Ninety percent of all the ticket sales from the Victoria College event will go to Midcoast Family Services' Women's Crisis Center. The other 10 percent will go to the National V-Day organization, DeVries said.

"We're hoping to raise several hundred dollars," she added.

The college is also standing behind the production.

"Victoria College is supportive of artistic expression, and in this case, raising awareness of women's issues is a positive thing," Tom Butler, president of Victoria College, said. "Of course, art doesn't please all the people all the time, and we're aware of that, as well. 'The Vagina Monologues' is a strong statement. Hopefully, those who are receptive will attend, and those who are not will join us for some of our other cultural events."



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