Oscar Ritchie stages The Vagina Monologues

Performers+of+%E2%80%9CThe+Vagina+Monologues%E2%80%9D+break+the+ice+during+their+first+meeting+together+as+a+group+after+practicing+their+monologues+on+their+own+in+Oscar+Ritchie+Hall+Theater+on+Tuesday%2C+April+12%2C+2016.+The+group+was+asked+to+answer+the+question%3A+%E2%80%9CWhat+outfit+would+your+vagina+wear%3F%E2%80%9D

Performers of “The Vagina Monologues” break the ice during their first meeting together as a group after practicing their monologues on their own in Oscar Ritchie Hall Theater on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. The group was asked to answer the question: “What outfit would your vagina wear?”

Kent State’s Women’s Center is staging “The Vagina Monologues” this Friday and Saturday at the African Community Theater in Oscar Ritchie Hall. The Women’s Center has put on the monologues every other year over the past decade. 

“The Vagina Monologues” are based on playwright Eve Ensler’s 200 interviews with women of different backgrounds, ages and cultures. The Sexual and Relationship Support Services at Kent State describes it as giving a “voice to experiences and feelings not previously exposed to the public. It has brought a deeper consciousness to the conversation around ending violence against women and girls.” 

Tyler Mootz, a graduate student in higher education, directs the play.

“I’m happy that I am a man doing this, because it’s not that I’m here to put my male perspective on these stories whatsoever,” Mootz said. “I’m here because I want other men to see that there’s a man behind this and these issues are important to me and should be important to other men as well.”

Mootz originally saw the play while he visited Iowa State and the transformative experience led him become a feminist.

“I really owed it to this show for all it has done for me,” Mootz said. “Getting to finally direct it has been a way to create closure with that experience.”

There is a monologue in the play about the lives and experiences of transgendered women, but because of scheduling difficulties, no transgender women will play the part. Mootz will have photos of two transgender women in front of the stage as a way to put faces to the experiences that are not originally the cast’s own. 

Women of varying backgrounds and cultures were cast for the roles in the play. Lauren Belack, senior human development and families studies major, reads the monologue, “They Beat The Boy Out of My Girl… Or So They Tried.” Belack said how excited she was about such a bold title.

“These are things people should be talking about,” Belack said. “Everyone thinks of them, but no one wants to talk about them. I think we should just get it out there.” 

Sophomore fashion merchandising major JaKyah Beatty, who also performs in the play, spoke about the importance of getting the issues the play brings to light out into the public.

“Once I received my script and was reading through it, I noticed the problems that occurred to my character are things that happen to women all the time,” Beatty said. “It’s nice to not feel so alone with (the problems)… (the show) builds a community of understanding people.” 

Another performer, freshman theatre studies major Jonie Schuckert, said how she “had to do it.” 

“As a performance major and a feminist … I was like, ‘I have to be in it,’” Schuckert said. 

Bobbie Szabo, senior integrative studies major, performs a monologue on “The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy,” which highlights the many different types of moaning.

“I had a friend who was in college my senior year of high school and she was telling me about this show in which she moaned as a dominatrix and I thought that was pretty rad,” Szabo said. “I’ve waited years and years for a flyer or a notification that Kent is doing the show and when I saw the Women’s Center was doing it, I thought I had to do it.” 

Szabo ended up getting the same part as her friend.

Mootz and the cast said their production was different then others they’ve seen in the past.

“I think something that’s unique about our production is that it’s very genuine … It’s more talking to people in the audience,” Szabo said.

Nicholas Garisto is the Women and Gender Issues reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]