Vagina Monologues director adds second show ‘Two Lips’ for Valentine’s Day weekend
As the co-publicity chair for U.Va.’s Spectrum Theatre as well as my involvement in several other theater organizations over the years, I have been able to see the powerful impact theatrical performances can have on everyone involved.
Good theater creates a bond between the actors and the audience that lasts until the final moments of the performance. Great theater uses this bond to bring to light aspects of society, culture and human nature compelling both actors and audience members think about these issues.
Spectrum Theatre’s dedication to challenging and engaging the University and Charlottesville communities through provocative, socially relevant, universal, inspiring and innovative performances is what first drew me to becoming more involved in the organization.
As a part of this mission, Spectrum Theatre produces The Vagina Monologues every spring. The famous collection of interviews, published by Eve Ensler in 1996, covers topics such as sexual violence, rape as a tool of war, and the stigma surrounding vaginas.
This Valentine’s Day weekend, director Yvonne Fox, who is a third year, is changing the way Spectrum Theatre is presenting the show. Rather than only performing The Vagina Monologues, Fox has decided to create and direct a second show titled TWO LIPS that will immediately follow The Vagina Monologues.
All proceeds from the tickets are being donated to SARA, the Sexual Assault Resource Agency dedicated to eliminating sexual assault through education, advocacy, and support to everyone in the community. Because this performance of The Vagina Monologues is also a charity event, it qualifies as a V-DAY 2015 event.
By collecting the new monologues that comprise TWO LIPS, Fox hopes to bring new life to Ensler’s still socially relevant work and bring the show’s important message to even more people in the community.
“The events last semester were a watershed of discussing crimes of a sexual nature […],” Fox said. “While involvement with certain types of groups such as Green Dot has increased and their presence has become stronger, [these programs] are not geared toward talking about what has already happened simply because that is not their goal. I feel while we need to have groups that allow us to look toward prevention, we also need to have the ability to discuss what has already happened.” This second show will showcase monologues written by local social activists, playwrights, and other members of the University and Charlottesville communities. Fox’s goal in creating TWO LIPS is to encourage a wider audience to attend and participate in the performance.
“The No. 1 complaint that people give is that they’ve seen this play before,” Fox said. “In the past 15 years, it hasn’t changed […] You accept the skeleton script that has been given to you and you trust the community to build off of that… If you give people the opportunity to contribute, they’re going to be invested.”
Like many other fans of The Vagina Monologues, Fox fell in love with the show from the first time she saw it performed live.
“It was kind of magical just being able to yell in a room full of people […] It has an effect on you when someone gives you a permission to say a word that was yours and you just never realized it.”
Fox’s cast and her entire artistic team feel just as passionately about the show and it’s cultural significance as she does. Consisting of men and women, experienced actors, students with no prior acting experience, LGBTQ activists and feminist activists, Fox’s team is a prime example of the wide range of people who can relate to this show.
“You should come see it both because it is crucial to being a part of this society and what it’s going to become […] but also that it’s funny and it’s moving,” said Assistant Director Aspen Miller, who is a second year. “Someone is cheering during one monologue, but then someone is also relating to some of these experiences in the next. Theater is relatable for every audience and this show really is.”
Cast member and fourth year Maggie Chambers saw The Vagina Monologues for the first time last year.
“The show has a broader audience than you’d initially think […] By going to The Vagina Monologues you aren’t signing a petition but you are opening yourself up to a new perspective and that has value in itself.”
While encouraging my own friends to attend and participate in the show, I discovered that although many of them had been interested in The Vagina Monologues for a long time, several of them felt too uncomfortable to actually attend.
“The whole point of this play is for you to find yourself in it,” Fox said. “The fact that you feel uncomfortable is evidence that it is still a stigmatized subject, and I understand that many men go and feel blamed for crimes of incest and rape and many other different things, but the point is that if the conversation dies out about those things, it is more likely that they will happen again. At times, it is uncomfortable but sometimes you have to produce art that people are uncomfortable with and I don’t have any problems standing behind that.”
Visit Spectrum Theatre’s official website or like Spectrum Theatre on Facebook for updated details on times and dates of The Vagina Monologues and TWO LIPS, as well as details for more upcoming shows.