The Daily Aztec

PREVIEW: The Vagina Monologues’ vulvacious cast acts for women’s rights and a charitable cause

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“The Vagina Monologues” producer Laura Horton, Co-Director Ella Castillo and cast member Elvan Guzman table for the upcoming performances on campus.

“The Vagina Monologues” producer Laura Horton, Co-Director Ella Castillo and cast member Elvan Guzman table for the upcoming performances on campus.

Photo by Elissa Tauscher

Photo by Elissa Tauscher

“The Vagina Monologues” producer Laura Horton, Co-Director Ella Castillo and cast member Elvan Guzman table for the upcoming performances on campus.

by Nicole Badgley, Senior Staff Writer

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In 1970, San Diego State was the first Cal State University to offer women’s studies courses in classrooms.

“The Vagina Monologues,” an all-female play that focuses on issues related to the challenges that women and girls face all around the world, will be held for the tenth consecutive year at SDSU.

The show is put on by the SDSU chapter of V-Day, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to ending violence against women and girls and giving them more opportunities to succeed.  

“The Vagina Monologues” will be playing three times over the course of two days. The first event is set for Thursday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Don Powell Theatre located in the School of Theatre, Television and Film. The following two performances will be held on Friday, Feb. 2 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the same location.

Ten percent of the proceeds from the event will go to the national V-Day organization while the other 90 percent will be donated to a local San Diego beneficiary called License to Freedom, a non-profit organization that promotes nonviolence through community education, self-sufficiency and advocacy for refugee and immigrant survivors of domestic and relationship abuse.

In 2013, SDSU donated over $16,000, according to the V-Day SDSU website.

Theatre arts sophomore Kate Coughlin and Olive Parton, a senior majoring in communications, women’s studies and rhetoric through the interdisciplinary program, are the co-directors of the play this year. Both students were cast members in the play last year.

“We’ve been so lucky to grow and learn and understand more stories that help us become intersectional feminists,” Parton said.

“The Vagina Monologues” originated from Eve Ensler’s 1994 off-Broadway play that explicitly brings to light issues regarding women, sexuality, rape, consent and body image.

The play was originally women reading aloud on notecards but has progressed to become more contemporary, changing conceptually but still focusing on those same key issues.

“Our (performance) definitely stands out as very open and real,” Coughlin said. “It’s a very uncensored performance of it. We told all the characters to wear whatever they felt comfortable in as themselves.”

Coughlin said that they wanted to add more voice to the play so there are three original pieces of poetry in the show that integrate the voices of the local community.

“Anyone who is female or who identifies as a female can be a cast member in the play,” Parton said. “This year we had the most number of people audition for the play. It really reflects how people want to be more involved and knowledgeable about what’s happening now.”

Through the use of humor, satire, music and emotion, Coughlin said the play is meant to showcase these very serious issues regarding women in a unique and thought-provoking way.

Coughlin said men and boys are invited to attend and that in past years, the performances have been eye-opening to males about the issues women and girls face around the world every day.

“Everyone has a connection to women and also has a role in stopping and understanding what this issue is at hand especially with women’s violence,” Parton said. “We need men’s support to fix this problem. It’s not a guy or girl issue. It’s a universal issue.”

There will be a booth on Aztec Walkway the week of the performances promoting the event with information regarding “The Vagina Monologues,” V-Day and how to get involved. Tickets will be sold for $15 presale and $17 at the door.

Women’s studies junior Elvan Guzman is one of the cast members in the performance. She is performing for the first time in the play this year and said she has wanted to be a cast member since her first year of college.

“I consider myself a feminist and activist,” Guzman said. “ I feel like the message is really about women empowerment of people that identify as a woman and standing up for their rights and equality for all.”

Guzman will be performing a spoken word piece called “Me Too.” It focuses on the #MeToo online movement that seeks to end violence against women and girls and help victims of sexual assault. Guzman said she relates to her character because she considers herself a survivor.

“I think that events like this are really important because you get to see women acting about empowering other women, and the proceeds go toward helping real women empower themselves,” she said.  

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