“The Vagina Monologues:” the last production

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Elsa Manning ('21) - Chips

The cast of Luther College's production of "The Vagina Monologues" perform a scene called "Lists."

The annual production of “The Vagina Monologues” took place in Marty’s from Feb. 20- 22. “The Vagina Monologues” was written by playwright Eve Ensler and was first performed off-Broadway in 1996. The monologues were written using a series of 200 interviews Ensler conducted with women about relationships, violence against women, and sexual experiences.

The production will be replaced next year with a new adaptation of the show featuring the stories and experiences of Luther students and community members.

Luther has held productions of “The Vagina Monologues” for the past several years, and many of the cast members in this year’s production have participated in the show every year since they have attended Luther.

Co-directors Maddie Flom- Staab (‘20) and Mara Mergens (‘20) spearheaded this year’s production and the creation of the new Luther version of The Monologues. Despite the long legacy of Ensler’s play at Luther, Flom-Staab and Mergens agree it is time for a new, more inclusive version of the monologues to take its place.

“We believe that [The Monologues] served its course and did a lot of great things for a lot of women and people throughout the past twenty years,” Flom-Staab said. “But it was written in the 90s for white feminism and for white, like- minded people, so we want to adapt it to what we consider feminism to be now.”

Like Flom-Staab, Mergens believes the current rendition of “The Vagina Monologues” is outdated. Mergens hopes to create a more inclusive show that represents the realities of a variety of identities.

“It makes us uncomfortable to hear some of [The Monologues’] representations of transgender women, or queer women, or black women, so moving into this new chapter, we’d like those perspectives told and represented by people who have actually experienced those things.”

Tia Meyer (‘23) appreciated the efforts to point out the problems with the current production and how it should be made to suite others.

“We definitely don’t talk about women’s sexuality in schools,” Meyer said. “We don’t even label women’s body parts. We don’t tell women all the inner workings of the vagina or how to have an orgasm. I think it’s really underrepresented, so it’s good to see something like this where that’s just what they talk about,”

In past productions, some parts that were deemed “problematic” were taken out. However, this year’s show intentionally kept difficult scenes in the script to scrutinize parts that were not inclusive of all identities.

“We tried this year not to change too much in the script,” Flom-Staab said. “In the past years we have taken out some of the problematic parts, but this year we tried to keep some of them in. Some of it is hard to watch, and we hope that the audience does have that negative gut reaction, so we hope it will be more and more questioned.”

A discussion was held after the performances, where cast members in this year’s production as well as audience members shared their reflections on the show, their impressions of the script, and personal experiences. Some people at the discussion expressed their hopefulness that future monologues will do a better job of representing diverse experiences and being more sensitive in its portrayal of those experiences. Molly Graff (‘23) hopes for one of the future perspectives to be that of a male.

“I think it would be interesting to have a male perspective to see what they think,” Graff said. “They will know and experience and we will get to see a whole other side of the story.”

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