Author: Andrea Cornelius
This past Friday, more than 40 Oxy students performed in a room of over 150 men and women for the Vagina Monologues Open Mic Night in Lower Herrick. The intimate setting of Lower Herrick allowed for an engaging and dynamic event. The performances included a variety of poems and musical performances that encouraged the empowerment of women. “The Open Mic Night has become a great venue where students can speak and sing about women’s empowerment,”co-organizer of this year’s Vagina Monologues Rachel Deitch (senior) said. “There is a demand for a space like this on campus.”
To recruit the performers for Open Mic Night, the cast of the 2010 Occidental Vagina Monologues sat in the quad, sent out digest announcements and posted fliers to get people to sign up. “People definitely took the initiative to sign themselves up and find or write their own pieces, which was really great!” co-organizer of this year’s Vagina Monologues Meilani Bowman Kamaha’o (senior) said.
They also asked people in the quad, “What would your vagina say?” and “What would your vagina wear?” The members compiled the answers and read them aloud at Open Mic Night. The most frequent answer to the question of what one’s vagina would wear was “birthday suit,” while other answers ranged from “sunglasses” to “wedding dress.” The most memorable answer to what one’s vagina would say was “campus safety!” as well as the chorus to Kanye West’s “Stronger.”
This opening performance created a relaxing atmosphere that sparked a welcoming dialogue while setting an unassuming tone for the evening. “Quite often people aren’t sure how to start such a conversation [as women’s empowerment], but peoples’ relationship to the vagina has become a good jumping off point,” Deitch said.
Other performances were just as fun and energetic. They included poems by authors such as Pablo Neruda and many autobiographical pieces, such as a piece written by Libby Mislan (senior) entitled, “Who’s Inside Who?” Others did musical performances of songs by artists such as Regina Spektor and Bob Dylan, and a version of Lady GaGa’s “Paparazzi,” with parodic lyrics (focused on vaginas) was an unforgettable performance. Sarah Flocken (senior) gave a funny account of her yearly visit to her gynecologist in a autobiographical piece entitled, “Annual.”
During intermission people could buy “I love Vaginas” t-shirts or grab a cupcake. After intermission, Mike Kutan (junior), Victor Kali (senior) and Noam Goldberg (sophomore) sang “What’s Up” by the Four Non-Blondes. The audience sang along as soon as the song reached the chorus. The atmosphere was truly empowering as the whole room was singing, “I said Hey! What’s going on?” in unison. This captured the enthusiasm and energy of the relationship between the audience and the performers throughout the show.
On a deeper, more serious level, performances by Deitch, who did a reading of her own poem, “Making Sense,” and Serita Robinson (sophomore), who read a monologue from “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enough,” by Ntozake Shange, embodied the Vagina Monologues’ devotion to stopping violence against women by raising awareness. Their performances successfully presented this important message in a powerful and bold way. Though these acts took on a more serious tone than some other performances of the evening, they were incredibly poignant and thought-provoking.
The range of performances and the audience’s participation made the Open Mic night a successful event. The comfortable atmosphere and the fact that it gave Oxy students a safe place to share their songs, stories, poems and thoughts about femininity made for an informal and personal experience. “As we were cleaning up, Mei and I received many thanks for giving the Oxy community a place where women could talk about vagina-love (as the cast has started to call it) . . . for which I am grateful,” Deitch said.
If you missed Friday’s event, keep a look out for another Open Mic Night next spring, which will focus on men, masculinity and female empowerment. Also, be sure to support the cast and the cause by attending the Feb. 19 performance of The Vagina Monologues.
Additional reporting by Danielle Christopher and Tara Daley.
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