by Mariah Parker, Multimedia Editor
Over the weekend, the Vagina Monologues returned to Bryson gym under the direction of sophomores Arayah Larson and Danielle Landy.
This year’s raffle proceeds benefitted the V-Day foundation, which fights violence against women globally. Local beneficiaries included the RISE project, HELPMATE, OurVoice, and the ABCCM’s Steadfast House.
“I spend a lot of time helping women, it’s one of my strongest goals,” explained Arayah. “My family is all female and so are the majority of my friends, so that’s the appeal [of directing] for me.”
This year’s 14-person ensemble gives the production an intimate, emotional vibe.
“We had somewhere around 20-25 cast members last year and it had a much more theatrical feel to it,” said Larson. “This year the cast is small and we’ve been able to pay more attention to each piece and get to know each other better.”
The cast consists of first-years Julia Lehr, Allison Giles, and Courtney Johnston; sophomores Johna Appelstein, Sarah Broyles, Morgan Steele, Gabrielle Marshall, and Eva Wilson; junior Nadia Pappalardo, and seniors Sofia Trovato and Madeleine Wadley.
“It was really cool to see the girl in the audition and then see her on the stage,” said Larson. “We tried to place everyone outside of their comfort zone by giving people pieces they might struggle with. It makes the experience a lot more interesting.”
Such is the case of Alex Foote and the Coochie-Snorcher piece, which deals with sexual assault, a small girl’s experience with her vagina, being a lesbian, and homelessness. “It’s a super complicated piece,” said Larson. “We have a lot of education to do, and because we have fewer girls we have had more time to do workshops. If the women who are in pieces about transgender females are unfamiliar with that, [they] need knowledge about transgender issues so they can bring that to the stage.”
The production started in November with one weekly rehearsal and slowly moved to three rehearsals a week as the opening approached. In addition to intense memorization, the actresses also faced an emotional aspect and, in some instances, experienced what one cast member termed a “vagina-breakthrough.”
“It teaches you a lot about yourself and about your body,” Larson explained.
As the curtain falls, Larson is looking ahead to future productions of the Monologues. “I’ll be relieved when it’s over and I think I’ll miss it,” said Larson. “One of the directors from last year came and said it defined her winters and had gotten her through them and it made me realized that I need the vagina-time, next year too if not for a long time.”