SALT LAKE —As part of V-Day—a global activist movement to end violence against women—Westminster students put on Eve Ensler‘s groundbreaking play The Vagina Monologues. New, personal monologues, tackling such issues as homophobia, rape, and abortion, were performed alongside the original monologues. While some of the stories were indeed heavy, there was a lot of laughter throughout the night.
Alexis Epling gave a strong performance, moving between mirth and tears, in “The Vagina Workshop” about a woman looking at her vagina for the first time and locating her clitoris. Kerry Thomas was more exasperated than enraged in “The Angry Vagina,” detailing the indignities put upon her long-suffering vagina. Candace Bird owned “Reclaiming Cunt” bringing strength and joy to the piece. And Babs De Lay brought down the house with howls of laughter in “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy.”
Other performances of note included Elaine Sheehan, quietly devastating in “My Vagina was My Village.” Elizabeth Braden was wryly humorous in “Because He Liked to Look at It.” Nicole Tyler was winningly animated in “The Little Coochie Snorcher that Could” about the politically incorrect savior who taught her to love her vagina.
Nearly all the of performances were good; the stronger performances tended to be off-book, while those who still referred to the script occasionally stumbled. The night was fiercely political, acknowledging those in the cast and the audience who participated in the Women’s March. Trump was called out, and the show ended with “One Billion Will Rise for Justice.” Meanwhile, all donations and proceeds benefit the Salt Lake City Rape Recovery Center. It was a powerful, joyful, moving, and gyno-centric evening.
The courage and force with which this famous performance event is mounted is to be commended and celebrated, particularly in a state that is finding a voice for the marginalized and under-represented. Theater has quite a power and responsibility to use the human experience in such a way to uplift, edify, and shine a light on social consciousness and empathy. I applaud Westminster College for their commitment to this yearly production, as it is an important work and one worth seeing. If you didn’t catch it this year, this exemplary theater is sure to do a smashing job with it next February as well.