People of marginalized gender identities present “The Vagina Monologues”

Taking control of the narrative

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Ariel Noble '23 on stage during her performance // Photo courtesy of Rachel Fuchs '23

This past weekend on Feb. 25, the Feminist Collective and Sophia Johnson-Grimes ‘22 presented “The Vagina Monologues,” a performance piece consiting of various monologues and spoken word. The ensemble of actors consisted of people from marginalized gender backgrounds as they reflected on their experiences related to vaginas, from their hair to fun and not-so-fun facts.

The annual piece has been performed thanks to the support of the Feminist Collective, an active group here on campus. “I really admire the Feminist Collective in that they seek justice through an intersectional perspective,” shared Johnson-Grimes. 

“The Vagina Monologues” continues to be a performance for people to showcase the beauties of their bodies and also the difficulties they face. The performance was not just focused on cisgender women, but encompased other gender identities. 

“I was in the show my freshman year, [as]‘The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,’ so it was a very interesting perspective to be on the other side of the table this time,” stated Johnson-Grimes. 

“This [‘The Vagina Monologues’] was such a fun and empowering tradition that Muhlenberg had for the longest time and I was so sad COVID did away with it, so I wanted to bring it back, and I’m so glad I did. I hope people will continue it for years to come. Feminist Collective is full of such smart, strong individuals. They were the best sponsors I could have asked for,” added Johnson-Grimes.

“All of them gave genuine and powerful performances that resonated around the room, it was a truly unique space.”

– Isabelle Peters ‘24

Lizzie Witek ‘23 served as the associate director and stage manager for the piece, assisting with the rehearsal process and the overall performance. Witek and Johnson-Grimes created a collaborative experience as they both led the performers and developed the overall piece.

“Sophia gave me the opportunity to direct five of my own pieces on top of stage managing the show, so it felt like a truly collaborative process. We… creatively get along so well, so I’m very lucky to have had them through this process,” Witek claimed. 

Robin Title ‘25, a member of the company who performed “My Vagina was My Village,” mentioned their positive experience in “The Vagina Monologues” and being able to participate in this piece both as an actor and human being.

“The process was great! Sophia and Lizzie made everything go really well and I cannot thank them enough for that. I feel as though I’ve learned so much about myself as a performer and as a person,” stated Title.

Isabelle Peters ‘24, an audience member stated, “I thought all of the performers did an outstanding job! All of them gave genuine and powerful performances that resonated around the room, it was a truly unique space.”

The play was rejuvenated for new audience members with the help of Johnson-Grimes and the rest of the cast. This older piece was updated with more modern themes and by updating the language to be representative of today’s culture and beliefs. 

Johnson-Grimes mentioned, “‘The Vagina Monologues’ was written over 20 years ago, and the world around us has changed immensely since then, for the better, in my opinion.”

The director kept the original script intact but also allowed for areas of growth and to feature more gender identities. The space was made to be more inclusive and welcoming for audience members and performers of the cast. 

“It’s awesome being able to have that creativity, but also being able to share something that means so much to you and having the ability to educate others about it, so they can better themselves in the future.

– Spyro Coffin ‘25

“Most of the text from the original script was kept, we did however change a lot of the language to encompass a wider range of gender identities (for example, changing ‘women’ to ‘people’). As a non-female identifying vagina owner myself, I can attest to the fact that language is a very powerful thing and does, in fact, matter in these conversations,” continued Johnson-Grimes. “Also, there were two monologues we cut from the show and replaced with original pieces written by members of the cast. No hate towards the people who wrote them in the first place, since these are personal experiences, but many of the ideas these monologues present were problematic and outdated. Spyro [Coffin ‘25] and Honeyjo [Yanko ‘25] both had incredible stories to tell that I felt needed to be heard by the public, stories we hardly ever hear.”

Coffin, who performed “Boy’s Problem,” described the process of writing his own monologue for the piece. 

“I’ve always been a bit of a writer— I’ve written monologues and stories before, so it wasn’t impossible to write down my feelings about the topic of gender dysphoria since it’s something I experience on the daily,” stated Coffin. “It’s awesome being able to have that creativity, but also being able to share something that means so much to you and having the ability to educate others about it, so they can better themselves in the future.”

The lively piece served as a fundraiser for Turning Point of Lehigh Valley and the group was able to receive an impressive amount of donations from the audience members. Turning Point focuses on helping victims of domestic violence with a shelter and other options for help. A minimum of a $2 donation was asked for to watch the show. Johnson-Grimes concluded, “I’m still counting donations at the moment, but so far we’ve raised over $200. I’m so grateful for everyone who supported us.”

Kailani Reis ‘24, a company member and swing, decided to participate in the piece after seeing a post on Instagram. One Google Form and a video submission later, Reis performed “Reclaiming Cunt” on Feb. 25. 

Reis shared, “I really enjoyed knowing I was a part of a community of people sharing the stories of something that is still taboo to talk about. We only performed one night which was sad, but it was wonderful seeing all the people who came to watch us and thereby donate to a good cause.”

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