UC San Diego’s “The Vagina Monologues” completed its first and second shows on Thursday and Friday, respectively, marking the school’s 18th production of the play and its first production of HerStories, stories written by UCSD students about their experiences with sexual assault and their sexuality.
Originally written and performed by Eve Ensler as an off-Broadway show in 1996, the show has since been replicated at various college campuses and other locations around the world. Some pieces are light-hearted while others are more serious, focusing on female sexuality and identity.
The new pieces added to the show are a compilation of the various experiences of womxn on campus and were chosen from submissions from various writers.
Janine Lopez, a graduate from Thurgood Marshall College and this year’s casting director, explained that she found a lot of similarities in the submissions.
“There were common themes and a lot of intersections,” she told the UCSD Guardian. “Each piece is so different from the others, but they all have common intersections.”
Lopez explained that her goal for the show is for the audience to learn something new.
“There’s a lot of very deep pieces, and I hope that [the audience] doesn’t become uncomfortable,” Lopez said. “I hope instead that they learn and that they practice what they learn in the future.”
Priyanka Jhalani, a Muir College freshman and member of the cast, wants the audience to understand the importance of pain.
“I want them to understand that empowerment and pain are not separate things, and a lot of times pain is the catalyst for empowerment,” she said. “I want the audience to walk away feeling my power, my pain, my struggle, and realize that if they feel like they’re being treated unjustly, they have the right to stand up and walk the hell away.”
Jhalani experienced mixed responses to her involvement in the show, with some people supporting her and the event wholeheartedly and others expressing discomfort.
“I received mostly positive reactions, but there are some negative reactions too,” she said. “Someone told me that someone had told them that feminism was a cancer, and one of the girls backstage agreed that feminism is a cancer if you mean that it grows and divides and you can’t stop it and it’s going to kill [the] patriarchy.”
Miranda Evans, a third year UC Education Abroad Program student and also a member of the cast, told the Guardian that her favorite part of the monologues are the different perspectives on femininity.
“There’s so many different stories associated with femininity and the feminine experience, and … it doesn’t all have to be negative because humor can be a really good way to tackle these issues,” she said.
This spring, the cast of “The Vagina Monologues” hopes to host “The Mending Monologues” as a complement to the original show, highlighting the various unspoken issues men face. Until then, there are two upcoming shows of “The Vagina Monologues” on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10.