Vagina Monologues’ brings bodies out in the open

“Are there any Vagina lovers in the house? Give me a V-A-G-I-N-A,” the announcer screamed at Saturday’s all-PSU production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues.” An audience of 520 eagerly awaited the performance in the ballroom of the Smith Center. The energy level was high and a happy mood was in the air. It was obvious everyone was ready to hear more about vaginas as they yelled along with the announcer.

The performance started off a bit funky. Jerry Falwell must have sabotaged the sound crew because the feedback from the mikes distracted the actors and audience. But after the technical difficulties were taken care of, things proceeded smoothly.

The monologues themselves were profound. Top performances included “My Angry Vagina” performed by Sara Pope and Kat Kelly. They didn’t read any scripts (which surprisingly a lot of actors did) and their emotion was realistic. Johanna Cole and her cute southern accent did a wonder in her performance of “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could.”

Most of the monologues were introduced with a fact: “Did you know that out of a hundred homeless women interviewed, only one was not abused or raped? For those women the home was a scary place and the source of their abuse.”

Some of the best quotes were from “Wear and Say,” performed by Chelsea King, Veronica Valenzuela and Tiffany Watson. “If your vagina could talk what would it say: slow down … remember me … come/cum inside … I’m here … too hard … not yet … [and] don’t give up.”

Although the production was very pro-woman and pro-body, PSU student Marcy Trueb, Social Science major (junior) noted, “It’s very gender friendly. Pro-vagina, but not anti-penis.”

Before the lights dimmed, folks browsed the vagina-themed art show. Among the favorites was an untitled piece by Rebecca Jessy. It promoted healing of one’s past molestation or rape. Jessy arranged fabrics that represented vaginas, each of different patterns and colors, sewn with ribbon. Women were allowed to take a piece of fabric or ribbon and through the representation reclaim what is theirs. “Sew up your vagina [the fabric] and reclaim it. It is yours and you have control of who can and cannot enter it.”

Also intriguing was the “Vagina Tea Set” by Darlene Shaper. Four yellow, blue-rimmed cups in the shape of the outer labia accompanied the pear shaped pot. If we all drank out of cups that looked like vagina labias, the artist asserts, women would be more comfortable with their own bodies.

Organizers worked on bringing the production to Portland State since October, and rehearsals began in January. The women started out with one rehearsal a week and built up to a rehearsal nearly every day the last week. Over 30 women were cast members, all students, faculty and staff from Portland State.

Proceeds from the event went to the Portland Women’s Crisis Line, a 24-hour hotline and peer support group