By Kimberly Ortiz
Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues returned to Rider University for two performances on Feb. 1 and Feb. 3, featuring the talents of both students and staff members.
Directed by Susan Stahley, prevention education coordinator for Rider’s alcohol, drug and sexual assault prevention program, the two-hour performance began with an introduction by Stahley, telling audience members why it is important to educate each other about sexual awareness.
The show began with a performance of The Men-O-Logue. Associate Director for Campus Life Nick Barbati kicked off the show with a monologue entitled “What Is Men Rising?” The piece discusses the need to be respected more and why violence against women needs to end. Barbati’s serious tone pulled the audience in and was a great way to begin the educational performance.
The performance was followed by “Man Prayer,” performed by grants manager Michael Rutkowski. This monologue not only encouraged men to think about the dangers of sexual assault and abuse, but asked women to reflect on what could happen if they were in that situation. This monologue’s style fit perfectly with the following stories.
Performed separately, two monologues, one performed by junior theater major Justin Giachetti and senior psychology major Matthew Hunt, told stories of what it means to really be a man and stand up for women being abused. The performances brought a great amount of vulnerability and truth to the night.
To close out The Men-O-Logues, Giachetti, Hunt and Rutkowski performed what would be an introduction to The Vagina Monologues, titled “A Wake-Up Call for Men,” which offered facts and information as to why men should be more aware of sexual harassment. The trio brought all they had to their part of the show, which successfully portrayed the men’s point of view of such a serious situation happening to women around the world.
Although many were expecting The Vagina Monologues to begin immediately from there, a performance of “A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer” was given by many of the same women who then continued on with the monologues.
Beginning with “Respect,” performed by freshman theater major Alex Albritton, this strong performance showcased how women of color have just as much of a chance of getting raped as white women. Albritton brought such an emotional feeling to the performance that it was clear she truly was connected to the topic.
One monologue in particular that stood out was “Dear Rihanna,” performed by sophomore elementary education and psychology major Ashley Leeds. In a comparison of the Rihanna and Chris Brown abuse case to the character’s situation with her boyfriend, she gave a passionate and realistic performance that kept the audience wanting to hear more of her imaginary letter to the pop star.
Statistics and important information were also provided by “Why This Monologue is Important,” performed by senior biology major Kaitlyn Uhrick on Feb. 1 and alumna Jessica Mielentz on Feb. 3. Unlike previous monologues, this one incorporated important information into the story, such as the number of sexual abuse cases involving high school students. The monologue brought a different side to the show.
For the final monologue of this section, a passionate performance of “Over It” was given by sophomore sociology major Destiny Cherry. The monologue depicted how one woman in particular felt about women’s rape, and how many justify this serious situation as a joke. Cherry brought such passion and feeling to the stage that it was a believable performance. It truly was a great way to transition into the intermission before the long-awaited The Vagina Monologues officially began.
One of the reasons the show proved to be a hit was the variety in the performances and among its cast members. Many of the monologues were performed as an ensemble effort, with collaboration among students and faculty members. “Six-Year-Old Girl,” performed by student junior biology major Rachel Pereira and professor of Spanish Maria Villalobos-Buehner, showed a woman’s body through the view of a child. Villalobos-Buehner acted as the mind of the girl, asking questions about what she thinks will happen to her body when she is older.
Junior elementary education and pyschology major Victoria Zerambo’s hilarious performance of “My Angry Vagina” brought laughter and truth into the packed Bart Luedeke Center Theater. Although the monologue seemed a bit long, it really was hardly noticeable with the energetic presentation of realistic facts.
To close out the show, the entire female cast performed “Emotional Creature,” which depicted the ins and outs of the female body and the ways women feel about their sexual feelings and abuse, making it truly a great way to conclude the night. Even though the show was about such a serious subject, each performance was done tastefully and truly educated each member of the audience.
Originally published in the 2/10/16 edition.