Read my lips—people with vaginas refuse to be silenced, despite a society that may make the discussion of women’s bodily autonomy taboo. The Underdog Workshop Theatre Club (UWTC) explored this type of discussion with their upcoming production of “The Vagina Monologues.”
The UWTC will present the “Vagina Monologues,” a play that educates people about issues that women, gender-expansive people, trans women and people with vaginas face. The performances will take place Feb. 15 and 16 in SUB MPR at 8 p.m.
“It’s been an incredible experience to work with all of these talented people,” said fourth-year digital media production major and Director Sabrina Petroski. “I can’t wait to see the final product of the show.”
The UWTC is an educational theatre club that focuses on using theatre as a means of educating performers and audience members. Their goal is to work on learning about theatre, and to have fun while doing it.
“We use workshops as a way to teach people about theatre,” said fourth-year English major Lisa Russo. “We do this through acting, singing, dancing, confidence building and audition prep.”
The club began in the Spring 2018 semester under the direction of Russo. This rendition of the “Vagina Monologues” will be the club’s debut.
“I learned a lot about different women’s experiences within the society we live in. I’ve always been super confident within my own skin, but a lot of women haven’t had the same experience and privilege I have,” Petroski said. “It made me realize that I should use my privilege to help other women, gender expansive people and trans women be more accepted within society.”
The “Vagina Monologues” is a collection of stories told by people of all ages and walks of life who share their experiences living in a society that suppresses women. The various monologues discuss how they’ve reclaimed their body and learned to love their vaginas, despite society telling them it’s wrong or dirty.
In order to perform the show, the club had to sign up on the website Vspot.vday.org in order to get the okay to do the show. There are set guidelines to follow to put both on the show and avoid paying for the rights to it, which the club intently followed to ensure continuity and expertise.
“Lisa and I had to do research and contact Vspot telling them we were interested in doing the show here at New Paltz,” Petroski said. “Then we had to pick an organization to sponsor us in which all the proceeds would go to, and once we did that, we were able to get the script.”
The club chose the Crime Victim Assistance Program (CVAP) of Ulster county and Kingston to send their proceeds, as this organization works to help victims of assault, domestic abuse and more.
According to CVAP’s website, they use a victim-centered approach to provide supportive services and compensation to those affected. The agency provides comprehensive crime victims’ services to all members of the community, including a 24-hour sexual assault/domestic violence hotline. This provides all crime victims a voice in the Criminal Justice System.
There are three directors for this production; Petroski, Russo and Kimmy Doherty. The three of them split up the monologues and actors to ensure privacy and safety to the performers, as this show deals with heavy material.
“We chose monologues based on which ones we could do justice to and which ones we were comfortable working on,” Petroski said. “As we started the directing process with the full cast, we set up individual rehearsals for each of the monologues so we could work with people and not have other cast members waiting around doing nothing.”
The directors cast the show at the end of last semester, providing sufficient time for actors to work on memorization and feel comfortable with the text. Rehearsals began this semester as each director set up dates and times for individual directing.
“The casting process was pretty easy. We put up posters about the audition days and signed out a room in the sub,” Petroski said. “We wanted the show to be inclusive as possible so we didn’t cut anyone while casting.”
Come see the “Vagina Monologues” on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16. Check out the UWTC on Wednesdays in SUB 402 at 6 p.m.